Shirebrook pensioner drowned in hospital bath

A SHIREBROOK pensioner who told hospital staff he wanted to die drowned in a bath at a psychiatric unit, an inquest was told.

Ex-miner Donald Thorpe (76), of Common Lane, had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act for his own safety and confined to Hartington unit at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

He made progress and on 12th February agreed to stay there on a voluntary basis.

But in March he told staff he had been having suicidal thoughts and had tried to drown himself in the bath.

Pleasley Ward sister-in-charge Kate Sargeson said Mr Thorpe voiced repeated desires to end his life on 13th March but his mood had improved considerably by the end of the month.

She told the Chesterfield hearing on Wednesday he was giving staff no cause for concern for his safety in the days leading up to his death on the morning of 10th April, and he appeared to be sleeping normally when regular checks were made the night before.

Nurse Christopher Rawlings noticed Mr Thorpe was not in bed at 7.30am and found a bathroom locked with the interior light switched off.

He unlocked the door and saw him laying in the bath with his braces tied around his neck.

Mr Rawlings could not find a pulse on Mr Thorpe, who was removed from the bath and attempts made to revive him before a hospital emergency team arrived and declared him dead at 8am.

"Out of everybody on the ward he was one of the least I expected to commit suicide at that time," Mr Rawlings told the inquest.

A pathologist found that the braces had left no mark on Mr Thorpe's neck and played no part in his death, which was due to immersion in water.

Post-mortem tests revealed levels of drugs consistent with therapeutic dosage.

In recording a verdict of death from self-administered drowning on Mr Thorpe, North Derbyshire coroner Tom Kelly said: "If someone is determined to do this it is almost impossible to stop it."