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ACT government commissions review of suicide attempt

By Thumper 14 July 2008 68

[First filed: July 08, 2008 @ 09:05]

The ACT Government has commissioned two independent reviews of how a suicidal woman tried to hang herself with a seatbelt in the back of a Corrective Services van as she was driven from the ACT Magistrates Court to Belconnen Remand Centre.

Last night, the 42-year-old Fadden woman remained in Calvary Hospital’s intensive care unit with severe brain damage.

The hospital listed her condition as critical, her family yet to decide whether to disconnect life support.

Canberra Times article here.

UPDATE: The ABC reports that the woman has passed away.

Further update: minime2 had this to say:

    This from me, who used to do this job in ACT court transport; so first-hand info here.

    Transporting remandees from courts to Belconnen RC is done by by one of two vans available at the time. One has rear inside camera, the other does not. It is a 15 minute trip; remandees are handcuffed in front of their body and have a lap-sash belt. In the afternoon, the process tends to be a “hurry up and get them there” before 4pm knock off.

    So, here we have what I will term a “lazy” C/Service control-room senior officer in charge of transport and the teams that take them (also to Quamby and Symonston). He would have been informed of the court’s ruling re “at risk” status. Whether he was “aware” is another thing. Whether he cared is definitely questionable.

    Why lazy? Because he actually had options. Put them all in the same van as per usual (the genders are seperated as the “cell” inside the van is partitioned into sections) or, as the remandee has openly declared (further)intent to kill self, and has been certified a person at risk (of same) by the Court – the Controller could (should) have her transported her otherwise -in the Falcon S/W with driver and another officer in the rear alongside handcuffed and seatbelted person would be an option. But that would take time to arrange and maybe go past 1600hrs. Post #51 is correct; the transporting officers were doing what they were told [by a Controller trying to stay in budget and not allow any overtime]. They may not have even been in the court and were told little of the remandees status. That will now bite Controller in the bum (read: career) badly. But not as badly as the lady in question. A cover-up in the making; no, I think they will bury him big time!

    The “Organ donor” posts are a good reason why this site is so barren of numbers and sensible, cognitive input. So many posts by so many who know f***-all about what they sprout. Maybe the site should be confined to “best coffee shops” as the limit of intellectual input.

Another Update: ACT Policing report that they are investigating and will prepare a brief for the coroner.

What’s Your opinion?

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68 Responses to
ACT government commissions review of suicide attempt
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cos 12:05 am 21 Jul 08

As for comments in regard to the actions of ACT Health and Corrections staff it’s difficult to know where to lay the blame. All I can say is that our Territory Government doesn’t have a high priority, or any positive agenda for that matter, for sufferers of mental health. She should never have been turned away from the Psych unit (twice!!) and have never been left in the back of a van unsupervised, whether by camera or direct contact. How many others have suffered similar fates after being turned away but just never made the newspaper?

As someone who knows the woman in question this is certainly a sad time for me. She was one of the most compassionate and caring people I’ve known and, despite any comments above to the contrary, her loss will be felt by many. She contributed more to this community than I could imagine and has been an advocate and support for many sufferers of mental illness.

I will miss her.

DJ 5:44 pm 18 Jul 08

JB – “If not you can join the nutters in the mod queue.”

Please… we clashed, you moderated but name calling from the source of moderating….

BTW is it a big queue? Am I in esteemed company?

Mish_Mash 4:10 pm 18 Jul 08

Im not sure moosenator. I havent had the nuts to really talk to my friend about it as she had been spending the last week visiting her in the hospital. very sad. although i was told that is she did recover she would have essentially been a vegetable. so the outcome wasnt going to be happy either way.

from what i can gather she’s had these problems for a lot of her life. Something certainly pushed her that little bit further in recent time though. but again, i don’t really know any details.

moosenator 11:07 am 18 Jul 08

Mish Mash,

Did she start going downhill after the commencement of her relationship with the “Dr”?

Mish_Mash 10:38 am 18 Jul 08

peterh said :

Thumper said :

I also feel saddened that the woman was a psychologist – was there any sign of her mental illness prior to the incident where she was deemed at risk for self harm? Has she been ignored for years with a potentially dangerous condition (to herself) by the ACT health system? where does a psychologist go to receive assistance with the daily demands of their profession?

considering the turnover of counselors, psychologists etc, that come through establishments run by the ACT government and then leave the profession due to overload or breakdown, what is the current mechanism to assist them?

I think that this is not an isolated case, there may be others out there in the same situation, what help does the government provide for them?

In answer to your first question peter i do know that she has a record of mental illness and suicidal tendencies. But I know of only a few small related matters where she sought help (i know someone who used to work with her) but only know so much as to say she contacted a few phone counselling services in terms of reaching out for help. I do not know how long this has been going on for or how many avenues she would have went through to find help.

Personally, i think it’s a tragedy that something that could have been avoided, wasn’t. She should have never been released from ACT mental health in the state that she was and I hope they get well and truly lynched for it. i don’t think so much of the blame should be with corrective services as they were only doing the job they usually do, but a patient with her history should not have been released to them in the first place.

moosenator 10:23 am 18 Jul 08


The difficulty here is that the entire complaints mechanism is geared towards the preservation of doctor’s rights. In this sense, the entire discussion may be shifting to the question of who’s rights we as a society feel trumps the other.

A complaint to the health complaints commission and medical board cannot be done under auspices of anonimity, and are often taken more seriously only when a patient of the doctor or colleague initiates proceedings.

In the current matter, it is doubtful that any patients know about his drug use – I only became privvy to this information because I was close to one of his family members, and saw direct evidence of the doctors drug use and behaviour.

The situation with this doctor in question is further complicated by the fact that he is well connected within the medical board. Further, you see what sort of person he really is when he effectively blackmailed this deceased lady (It appears easier to get a PPO (Personal Protection Order) than make a medical complaint stick)

Mr Evil 10:12 am 18 Jul 08

I’ll be recommending that ACT Corrections and the AFP start playing whale and dolphin call type music in the back of all vans to calm agitated people.

I’m sure the idiots in the ACT Govt will embrace this idea wholeheartedly.

Thumper 9:48 am 18 Jul 08

If these allegations are as common knowedge as it appears, then why hasn’t the Health Minster acted upon these claims?

Surely even the slightest hint of something untoward should be acted upon or at least quietly investigated.

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