No. 48 of #50cases.
On 5 July 2004, Carol Savage walked out of the hospital to which she had been compulsorily admitted. She walked about two miles to a railway station and jumped in front of a train which killed her.
Carol had a long history of severe mental illness. Since 1988 she had been an inpatient numerous times at a hospital where she had been detained under mental health laws. In 2004 she had been detained again for her own wellbeing and while in hospital developed severe paranoia and delusions. She felt that people where trying to harm her and her daughter and she started to self-harm. She also made repeated attempts to jump out of the window in order to escape. In July of that year she escaped from the ward and killed herself.
An inquest into Carol’s death found that the precautions taken to prevent her from escaping from the hospital were inadequate. Her daughter, Anna, felt that the fact that the hospital did not do enough to protect her mother from the harm that had resulted in her death meant that they had violated her right to life. The House of Lords agreed with her.
The judges said that a hospital is responsible for the health and wellbeing of their patients and this includes an obligation to protect them from self-harm and suicide. They should be aware that the vulnerabilities of their patients means that there is a heightened risk of these things occurring and the hospital did not do enough to prevent them in the case of Mrs. Savage.