The family of a tragic young woman found dead after a fortnight of frantic searching have spoken out against the mental health services which they say should have been in place to help her.
Melanie Wilson was found dead on November 3, aged 22, after vanishing two weeks earlier.
Her family have now spoken out for the first time about Melanie’s mental health issues leading up to her death, and they are calling for answers after they say their ‘bright’ and ‘charismatic’ relative was ‘robbed of life’.
Mel attended Broomhill Lane School and Brunt’s Academy. She was also a keen competitive dancer and trained at Disco World Academy.
Speaking on behalf of Melanie’s family, her brother, Pete Wilson, 31, from Mansfield, recalls a happy moment from earlier in 2016.
He said: “It was me, Mel and our brother Esmond – she was so happy that day and to have all three of us together, and she insisted on taking a photo.”
But hidden behind Melanie’s good mood were the demons that had haunted her adult life.
“She had battles in her head, they were private so it’s not like Tourette’s when you can see it in the open,” said Pete. “It’s the obsessive compulsive disorder, the paranoia – all sorts of thing going through her head.
“She struggled as she was growing up and spent some time in Milbrook. We both had some problems, but we always understood each other, so it was always me and her – we understood each other.”
A few weeks before she went missing in October, Melanie made a cry for help. She left her flat and after three days in the cold she was found on a park bench.
Pete said: “It was lucky she was found, but she should have been detained and she’d still be alive.”
The time frame between the two incidents was a crucial period, said Pete, when she was at her most vulnerable and needed help, but no help was given.
He said: “When the crisis team spoke to her they just told her to run a hot bath.
“That might help you if you’ve got the flu but not if you have serious mental problems.”
Melanie’s contact with mental health services had diminished as she got older, said the family. She used to go to the doctor and she always had help in the past. But that all got stopped and she was left to just carry on by herself.
“There used to be psychiatrists and these days they do it with telephone consultations.
“It’s diabolical for someone in dire need, who’s locked inside their brain and feeling like they’re on their own, and then you try and treat that down the end of the phone.
“You’ve got to remember that mental illness can be fatal. If you catch issues early enough you could be preventing someone committing suicide later on.”
Melanie’s death stunned the community when her body was eventually found in the garden of an unoccupied house, only a few hundred yards from her flat in Stoneyford Road, Sutton.
More than 100 people attended her funeral on Tuesday, December 13.
Meanwhile, the family’s agonising battle for answers continues.
After waiting weeks for investigators to release Melanie’s body for her funeral, they are now waiting for the coroner’s office to complete its investigations into the circumstances of her death before an inquest can be held.
“We’re frustrated that the investigation is taking so long, we want answers,” said Pete. “We want them to look over her case history and see where the failings were.
“I’ll think of Melanie and I’ll light a candle for her every day.
“That girl - the way she used to laugh, her sense of humour.
“We’re all grieving. We can’t believe she’s gone but we’re so grateful for how the community is keeping her alive, that’s what we want.”