Sunday, June 9, 2013






Jersey is a very affluent Island but is the money finding its way down the line? I have given the Jersey Evening Post plenty of stick in the past, not least their editorials, but the one on Friday 31st May really stood out. I reproduce it below. The staff working for Jersey Mental Health have a very difficult task.  I can tell you that  what the family of Islander Julie Sheila Brown describe below is 100% correct. I have been through the same experience. I have helped a friend through the different stages of care in Jersey's Mental Health. I have been left shocked - angry- emotionally drained and above all gobsmacked at what I found.  I have seen the bad and the very good of Jersey Mental Health. Things must change. I have come across some excellent staff working in very difficult circumstances. They need support. They need to be listened to. If they have concerns I hope there are mechanisms in place whereby they can raise these concerns to the relevant  people. 

Commissioner Clyde -Smith has called for Jersey Mental Health to be investigated. I fully concur with this. I hope that members of staff would be able to take part in this as their views are absolutely imperative in moving the service forward. Something has gone wrong over the decades. Now is the time for openness on these issues. Families are suffering. I have raised my concerns with senior management of Mental Health and would willingly take part in any investigation as should anyone who has come into direct contact with the service. 

The Jersey Samaritans had over 22,000 calls for help in 2012. This is simply a staggering number. Even if we say half were diverted calls from the UK it's still a staggering number. Lets say they had 12,000 calls locally is that not a huge problem? I would like to know what their previous figures were. 

That would be a 1,000 calls a month if we halved the figure. We are in an economic meltdown with no signs of anything getting better soon. All classes are feeling the pressure. Families to feed - mortgages to pay and ever mounting bills. I have heard for some time now that Jersey has a very high suicide rate but what is the real figure? We need a politician to start asking the questions. Even if we halved the figure to 6,000 that still a very high number. Remember behind every phone call their is a person in some form of distress. They must not become a number. Some questions must be asked and asked now. 

With the funding available are our Social Services able to employ the best in their field or are they trying to paper over cracks with the best they can find? All the issues concerning Mental Health and other related issues must be addressed and addressed now. Lives are being lost.  The Staff I have come into contact with have my up most respect. The work conducted by Mind Jersey is also a very important cog for the families and patients who suffer from mental illness.

How many attempted suicides have there been in the last 5 years?

The time has come to ask some very difficult questions - who will ask them?

All is not rosy in the garden of Jersey. 

We don't like talking about these problems especially as we are a clean cut Financial Centre 

When does the Investigation begin?

Feel free to share ones own experiences if you so wish - minus names. Thank you

Rico Sorda 

Part Time Investigative Journalist

Courts have a health dilemma
Friday 31st May 2013, 3:45PM BST.
If the widely quoted figures are correct, one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem during their lives.
Some will be at the lower end of the spectrum – a brief episode of mild depression, disturbed sleep or poor appetite, for example. From there the sliding scale goes upwards.
As a sufferer of late-onset paranoid schizophrenia, Islander Julie Sheila Brown, who last week appeared in the Royal Court charged with offences that took place in 2011, is at the severe end of the scale.
However, instead of receiving the care that she so desperately needed, her daughters say that she was treated poorly and without dignity and humanity at St Saviour’s Hospital. It was so bad that they begged for help, but got none. Instead, they say they were relieved when she was imprisoned.
That any family should be made to feel this way is, quite simply, unacceptable. So much so, in fact, that Royal Court Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith took the unusual step of calling for Jersey’s mental health services to be investigated so that lessons can be learned and damage to prisoners with mental health problems can be avoided in the future.
The learned Commissioner is absolutely correct and the authorities must now not just take note, but also action. That this should be allowed to happen once is bad enough. But Ms Brown’s case is not the first and, unless serious action is taken, it most certainly will not be the last.
Just days before that court hearing Jersey experienced two other cases which have glaringly similar features. In one, the son of an Islander who fell to her death from a north-coast cliff a few days after being discharged from St Saviour’s Hospital told an inquest that his mother was failed by the Health department.
In another, which just so happened to appear on the same day, residents at Victoria Cottage Homes said that they had signed a petition to have a vulnerable man who died in a house fire taken into care because of concerns about his mental health. That petition, submitted before the man’s tragic death, was ignored.
Taken individually these cases merit a complete review of mental health services in Jersey. Taken together the need for action is indisputable.


Anonymous said...

Someone I knew committed suicide whist under the 'care' of the mental health service. Her carer went away for a couple of weeks and someone else was supposed to keep an eye on her. He came back and asked how she was doing and they said they hadn't had time to go and check.He raced round to her states flat where he found that she'd been hanging, dead for a fortnight.An inquest was ordered but it was never published in the JEP...The carer who'd been away was gutted and attended her funeral.

Ian Evans said...

Excellent posting Rico, and we know the figures are played down and almost all cases not published. It is the silent epidemic that the States don't want uncovering!

Anonymous said...

My mother suffered a breakdown, and would not leave her friends house, so they called me her son.

I phoned the family doctor, he was not available it was a Sunday. She self hurt herself.

Desperate and not knowing what to do, I phoned the Samaritans. Lovely people they told me to phone the Doctors surgery someone would be on call.

It took ages, but got through and a Doctor said he would call. He did not know our family or my Mother.

My mothers friends were upset, I was upset and now of the opinion, that my mother was well past a cup of tea and a chat, her behaviour was upsettingly weird. She also self harmed with a burning cigarette.

The doctor arrived to our relief, my relief did not last long. Send her to surgery Monday was his considered opinion she is not well.

Then I lost it, in a nice calm eye to eye confrontation. Pen in hand like a police man I took all his details and then warned him that there is a good chance in her unbalanced state of mind that she would do serious harm to herself.

I would hold him personally responsible, and I hoped he was well insured and was quite happy to say goodbye to his career. For christ sake she had already hurt herself and refused to leave someone else's home.

The Doctor looked shocked, because he new I meant it and made a call muttering in the corner of the room.

He then said I would have to sign a form and it would not be easy for me. He was right.

The ambulance turned up twenty minutes later and they took her to St. Saviours.

Better that then find her dead in a back street, the ambulance people were wonderful, as were the Samaritans the doctor missed his lunch and could not look me in the face, he was the weak link as he was motivated by being threatened by being held responsible.

She came out three months later and after a lot of treatment recovered fully and has helped other people in trouble.

Anonymous said...

I have here a copy of the 'Jersey Statistical Review 2002' published by the Policy & Resources Dept. Aug 2002. Not exaclty helpful for now but as a comparisson perhaps?
This is what it says (It's a graph)

TITLE-Suicides & Undetermined Deaths for Jersey (1992-2000) and Other Islands (1996 -1998)

International Average 14.5%
Jersey 14.3%
Isle of Wight- 10.9%
England 9.2%
Isle of Man 8.4%

This is deaths per 100,000.

(International average= 58 countries).

As regard to 2008, although I don't have the figures, I believe it 'spiked' that year. I remember someone coming on Radio Jersey trying to explain why a 'spike' was considered ...'ok'!!
I wouldn't be suprised if alot of those 'extra' deaths may have been paedophiles shutting down and (hopefully not)victims who finding re-living the HDLG abuse experience, just too painful.
Although I didn't know anyone myself, a collegue at work knew of a man who topped himself in 2008 and it was something to do with HDLG and / or chiild abuse. I got the feeling from what this collegue was saying, this person was a perpertrator but he didn't give too much away. I also know of a very sad case of a former HDLG resident who died around this time although not from suicide- it'a a tragic story and I don't feel it's my buisness to write it.
As for the reasons why Jersey has such a high suicide, I think the Jersey Way plays a major part in it. Afterall, people are living in fear in an introverted society, it's not exactly a healthy starting point. Just like Jersey coming 36th out of 36 countries for voter turn out. Another appaulingly bad statistic that the establishment simply ignores while being far too busy waffling hubris and self adoration whilst striking relentlessly and putting down anyone who raises their heads or gets in their way.

rico sorda said...

Hi Anon's

Thanks for the stats. It would be interesting to see the figures up to the present day. The issues surrounding Mental Health must be brought out into the open. There are some excellent people working under extreme conditions. The implementation of the Health's White Paper could just be a wishful Christmas list.

Im pleased to hear your mother made a full recovery. That is excellent news and the fact she is prepared to help others.


Harrylillis said...

As I understand it, an Inquest is an open court unless there are reporting restrictions imposed - very rarely.

It would be worth contacting the JEP with the date of the inquest to enquire as to why it was not reported.

GeeGee said...

This is a subject of which I can offer a wealth of experience and will probably share over the coming days.

However, not all suicide inquests are reported in the JEP. When I lost my son to suicide the police/media did not report it to save myself and my daughters from further distress. This may have changed now, but was not too long ago.

Depression/mental health issues/suicide - the unseen illness that people avoid being open about.

Fair play to you Rico for highlighting the problem.

Anonymous said...

Rico, Ian Evans has published some previous postings about suicide in jersey. Do you think you could join forces and get the truth????

I found this interesting comment from his blog.

"hmmmmmm this makes me very suspicious as to why all of a sudden channel tv have suddenly decided to report on this.i my self have lost 2 friends,who had mental health issues,to suicide.its totally heartbreaking to think that these people had to take there own lives,as they must of felt there was no other way out.the shocking state of the mental health services in jersey is at an all time low,with major cutbacks effecting everyone concerned.a few years ago they started to discharge a lot of people from the phyciatric outpatients and pushed them on to there own gps,and now because of this they have now cut back the number of trained phyciatrists.pushing people from there on to there own gps just don't seem right to me as its shoving some ones problems from one place to another.they are also going to close the phyciatric outpatients in the main hospital,as thats how much they have reduced there case loads by,but there are still cpns(community phyciatric nurses)in action.depression is one awful illness and a lot of people dont seek help as it has a certain stigma attached to for the masses is the way foward,but education will only work if people will listen.and rymac you are totally right there does need to be an inquiry into why so many people take there own lives on jersey.and as for the real numbers of people committing suicide on jersey being disclosed, well i dont think any of us will ever know the real number as sometimes as when some one takes there own life its never even in the paper or on the news.2 people have already taken there own lives this year,thats just a shameful statistic really.when are the people who run this island and give the money out to fund states departments going to realise that suicides here go on and on year in year out and that keeping people from the help they so badly need,this will just keep going deepest sympathies go to both familys who have lost loved ones already this year.

rico sorda said...

I certainly have no trouble working with Big Ian. The truth will out on this issue.


Anonymous said...

Here are the stats from the 'Jersey Health Profile 2010'

Year/No.of recorded suicides in Jsy.

2000- 13
2001- 9
2002- 8
2003- 11
2004- 11
2005- 8
2006- 14
2007- 12
2008- 16
2009- 26 (17 male/ 8 female)
2010- 9

Note the 26 spike in 2009. There should be an audit into determining if there were any common factors in with this particular group. 2008 was also a significant increase but 2009 is off the scale. This must be looked at. It has a certain smell about it.

voiceforchildren said...


Previously banned US journalist, Leah McGrath Goodman, returns to Jersey EXCLUSIVE.

Ian Evans said...

You might want to look into the case below Rico, I am reliably informed that it is not all that the State Media cracked it up to be. I believe the JEP news cuttings of this case say something rather different to that posted below! Might even be a good idea to get VFC back on peoples doorsteps with his trusty video camera, I would be rather surprised if Mrs Ritson didn't want to talk about this case....

Suicide case: Review is to be independent
Saturday 5th July 2008, 9:57AM BST.

AN independent review is to be launched into the care of a father-of-two who committed suicide following years of depression.

Mike Ritson (64) was found hanged in his garage at his home in St Brelade on 1 March. At an inquest last month his wife, Jackie Ritson, blamed consultant psychiatrist Dr John Sharkey for the death, claiming that he failed to treat her husband’s condition correctly or recognise the severity of his illness, and was reluctant to detain him in hospital.

Now the General Hospital’s Mental Health Service will launch a review into Mr Ritson’s treatment. Mrs Ritson (49) has urged the Hospital to ensure that any review of the case is completely independent. She said: ‘I am so desperate to get an inquiry. I feel very sad because I feel that Mike was let down. He was crying out for help and he died a man who was not believed.

Mrs Ritson said that her husband eventually became frightened of Dr Sharkey, and his condition only improved when he was briefly placed under the care of another consultant psychiatrist, Dr Gil Blackwood. (Dr Blackwood has also called for an independent review (letters).

Ian Dyer, directorate manager of Mental Health Services, said that a review undertaken before Mr Ritson’s death found that Dr Sharkey was a ‘good clinician’. He also stressed that Dr Sharkey has never been officially blamed for Mr Ritson’s death, or criticised for any part of his treatment. He confirmed that an independent review into the treatment, which ‘is likely to involve a consultant from the UK’, would be launched.

Anonymous said...

I have no experience of Mental Health Services over here but it doesn't take a genuis to work out that the stabbings a couple of years back could have been avoided if services had been fit for purpose.

GeeGee said...

Ah yes - the very same Dr Sharkey who discharged my son after one week in Hospital when he was begging to stay longer as he knew he was not ready to leave.

The very same Dr.Sharkey who said in front of myself and my son that he only wanted to stay to 'impress his girlfriend'!!!

The very same son who went on to take his own life. RIP Neil xxx

And yes, I have the same sentiments about the Polish man who went on a killing spree. He too cried for help and did not get it. 6 lives lost and one ruined.

Anonymous said...

Name: Dr John Sharkey
Job Title: Consultant Psychiatrist
Company: Independent

After working for 10 years in Jersey as a Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Sharkey returned to Northern Ireland in 2008. While in Jersey he was the clinical leader of an award winning Inpatient Psychiatric Unit and gained a reputation for clear decision making with a proven record of addressing challenging issues proactively.

Through his considerable experience of private practice he developed an interest in Occupational Psychiatry. He current works part time as a Consultant Psychiatrist in the Occupational health Department of the Belfast Trust.

A passionate believer in the superiority of prevention over cure, he has presented to schools, business people, GP’s, Psychiatrists, Lawyers, individual companies and the cabinet of Ministers for the government of Jersey promoting personal leadership as the best route to good mental health.

Anonymous said...

so called dr sharkey and so called dr gil blackwood(aka Sigmund Freud) have a lot to answer to,unfortunately this will never ever happen as is the case in jersey.i don't think there has ever been an investigation into suicides here and if there have been they been kept under lock and key.sometimes in very rare cases you might just see death by misadventure verdict in the beano but not very often.ian and rico i must applaud you both on covering this subject matter on your blog sites,and hopefully more people will post comments on this sad subject matter.

Anonymous said...

Just read a bit of good news:

UK Public wins right to film all council meetings.

How long until Jersey follows suit.

rico sorda said...

I haven't had the pleasure of seeing how Dr Blackwood handled his cases during his time at Mental Health but I have been informed he was duly concerned at what he saw going on. It is a complex issue. There are different theories as to what is the best treatment for people with mental health. Love and care is essential. Not just to the patient but also the families concerned.

Suicide is connected to so many issues. It comes back to the social issues facing Jersey. As the times get harder so do the stress levels. Who is looking at the real social issues facing Jersey?

Senator Ferguson has this question lodged for Tuesday's States sitting.

3. The Minister for Health and Social Services will table an answer to the following question asked by Senator S.C. Ferguson –

“How many attempted suicides and actual suicides have there been over the past 5 years?”

rico sorda said...

I will be doing a follow up post on this very soon. Im awaiting the answer from the Health Minister on Tuesday. We are also doing some independent research that will take time but the truth will be told.

Anonymous said...

Joy Fouzai said...

I met with Dr. Sharkey today in Ireland as he sat in to cover for another psychiatrist. He was insightful and empathetic. I found him funny and extremely helpful. Im sorry to hear so many disagree.