Sarah was desperately worried about her mother Mary. Eight months ago Mary had attempted to take her own life, she was taken to hospital and released two days later as Mary had told the psychiatrist that she had “felt fine” and wanted to go home. Mary’s original diagnosis of depression was over 10 years ago and this was her third suicide attempt since then.

Although at 57 years of age Mary had never drank throughout her life, she had begun drinking heavily two years ago and it was getting worse. It appeared that Mary was self medicating the depression with alcohol. She was also taking sleeping tablets. Mary had agreed to get help and was due to go into a residential addiction treatment centre. She had been waiting two weeks for a bed. The day before she was to be admitted, the treatment centre phoned to say she was not eligible for their programme. The treatment centre had noticed on her GP referral that she had attempted suicide previously and they did not “deal with mental health problems”.

With the help of Mary’s General Practitioner Sarah spent months emailing and making calls to get her mother help.

Two treatment centres told Sarah that they could deal with the alcohol addiction but as her mother was taking sleeping pills also she would not be admitted.

The hospital psychiatrist in Mary’s catchment area said they would not admit her until the alcohol problem was dealt with.

Sarah sent an email to her TD explaining that mental health services would not admit her mother until she was sober and the addiction treatment services would not admit her mother due to the mental health problems, he is turn sent her out some AWARE brochures

Sarah phoned the Mental Health Commission who referred her back to her GP as “her GP would have access to services”. Sarah explained that the GP was trying everything but no service would admit her mother. They said they were sorry but they did not look after individual cases.

After many weeks of phone calls to one addiction treatment centre and a lot of persuasion, they eventually agreed to take Mary in on a week trial basis. Sarah was so relieved that her mother was at last going to get some help. Sadly the morning Mary was due to go into the centre she took her own life.