BBC News

Monday, 16 September, 2002, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK

'He felt he could not survive in this world'

Dan Glastonbury did not get the psychiatric help he needed

The government has published a strategy designed to cut the number of suicides. Action is badly needed. In England alone one person takes their life every two hours. BBC Health Correspondent Matthew Hill spoke to the mother of one victim.

Matthew Hill
BBC News

Marion Glastonbury's son Dan took his own life at the age of 20.

He had already tried and failed to commit suicide - by taking an overdose - three years earlier, worn down by bullying at school.

Dan was hospitalised after this incident, and he was referred to see a psychiatrist.

But when he turned up for the appointment two weeks later, he found no doctor to see him.

"I realise now that we should have gone back and pressed for a further appointment," Marion told me.

"But when somebody is treated so perfunctorily you can't feel that actually it would be any good to go back and press to be seen.

"Dan was always completely open about his desire to die and I constantly rang health professionals begging them to see him, but there was no question of a home visit.

"There was a tremendous emphasis at the time on patient confidentiality, and it was often felt that perhaps what lay at the root of it was a family conflict.

"Perhaps what I really wanted was some kind of external discipline, rather than desperately wanting my son's life to be saved."

Competitive atmosphere

The lack of support coupled with a testing time at technical college eventually proved too much for Dan, a shy man, who found it difficult to impose himself.

"I came home and found that he had left us a very long note, giving us his love and saying goodbye to all of us," Marion told me.

"In an atmosphere of school league tables and all the competitive pressures that we now feel there is not much hope for a very sensitive and shy young man lacking in self-confidence.

"I think his feeling that he could not survive the world had some justice, and would still be true."