A 29-year-old man whose body was found at Beachy Head earlier this year took his own life, a coroner concluded yesterday (Thursday, October 12).
Patrick Charleton, who jumped from the cliffs on May 12, had been detained the previous day after expressing suicidal tendencies but was then released after a mental health assessment.
“This is a devastating tragedy,” said coroner Alan Craze speaking at Eastbourne Town Hall. “We will never know if releasing Patrick was the right decision or not.”
Mr Charleton, who had struggled with drugs and alcohol addiction, had been assessed at Mill View Hospital in Hove but was released and ended his life later that day, the court heard.
Holly Markwick, who assessed Mr Charleton on the day of his death, told the court he seemed relaxed, was well-groomed, engaging and positive about seeking help.
She said addiction was exempt from the Mental Health Act and those combined factors had led to Mr Charleton being released from Mill View.
Mr Charleton’s mother Lina Ksendziuk said she had told mental health staff at the hospital she believed her son would successfully kill himself.
“Paddy was loving, affectionate, musical and a talented writer with an extremely promising future,” Ms Ksendziuk said. “He was active politically and had compassion for the homeless and vulnerable.
“He had been sectioned many times throughout his life, but didn’t have the capacity to help himself. We want the Government to learn lessons from this case.
“Suicide is not inevitable. There’s need for parliamentary reform. As a family we are absolutely devastated.”
Mr Charleton, who was unemployed and living in Hove, had issues with depression as well as drug abuse for much of his life.
He had got clean on a number of occasions and had begun a rehabilitation programme in Italy early this year but left after four weeks.
Mr Charleton had not been using any street drugs on the day of his death, but had been almost three times the legal alcohol limit for driving, the coroner heard.
Talking about Mr Charleton’s release despite a clear history of suicide attempts, Mr Craze said he believed a revision to the current Mental Health Act was necessary to avoid similar deaths in future.
“The law is not fit for purpose when it comes to keeping people safe,” Mr Craze said.
Speaking outside the court Mr Charleton’s twin brother Leon described the supportive relationship he had with his brother.
“It was a bit like Withnail and I. He was there for me and I was there for him. I’ll keep working for him here,” Leon said.
Patrick Charleton’s best friend, who preferred not to be named, said: “Paddy was a deeply poetic man. He was a funny dude. I’d describe him as omni-loving.”
“He was the victim of a jilted generation.”