Harry Slaughter, of West Sussex, had attempted suicide five times since the breakdown of his parents’ marriage, when he was 16
A YOUNG dad took his own life outside a probation office when he was told he couldn’t see his three-month-old son.
A week before he killed himself last November, Harry Slaughter warned probation services what he was planning to do if he was prevented from visiting his son Frankie.
Harry, 21, was banned from seeing his son after he was convicted in July 2017 for texting a schoolgirl he met on a train asking her to perform a sex act.
He had tried to take his own life two months later but was rescued by police who spotted him walking into the sea.
He was detained under the Mental Health Act and assessed by three mental health professionals but they all decided he shouldn’t be admitted to hospital.
His mother, Jane Ward, told an inquest that her son had tried to kill himself five times since the age of 16 after her marriage broke down with his father.
The mum-of-two said in the months leading up to his death, she would speak to him daily and he told her he was hearing voices in his head, having panic attacks and trouble eating and sleeping.
She said: “He would send me texts threatening to do it [commit suicide] and I would be talking him out of it.
“He said he was getting nowhere with the mental health people and was constantly phoning me up crying. One time he was threatening to jump in front of a train and I had to talk him from the train station back to his home.
“Literally every morning I was waking up thinking ‘is this going to be a good day or a bad day.”’
She added: “I felt he was let down in a big way [by mental health services] and now I have lost my baby boy.
“A little boy has lost his dad and he will never know how Harry loved him with all his heart. No-one can describe the heartache we are all feeling now.”
The inquest heard probation officers had alerted police after he threatened to commit suicide.
Officers attended his flat on November 7 in Littlehampton, in West Sussex, but police constable Neil Maloney said he didn’t feel Harry was at an immediate risk of harm.
“He said he was upset as he was not permitted to see his son due to an outcome of a case against him,” he said.
“Probation were overseeing his rehabilitation, so to speak, as a result of that case. He wanted to see his son and that was very much very clear to me. He blamed the probation service for him not being able to do so. He said he made that threat as he wanted to be taken seriously and didn’t think they were taking him seriously.
“He said not being able to see his son was having an adverse effect on him.”
Probation officer Kimberley French spoke to him shortly before his death.
She said: “He said he didn’t feel anyone was helping him and his attempt of suicide was to show me and social services that he really wanted to see his son so someone would do something about it and push us.
“He told me the reason he would hang himself outside the probation office is so he wouldn’t have to be identified by his family and he would be found quickly.”
She broke down in tears when asked by Harry’s mum why she only sent an email to his doctor rather than contacting mental health services following the meeting.
“It’s a question I ask myself all the time,’ said Miss French. “Harry didn’t present himself as suicidal that day and he wasn’t talking to me about wanting to do anything again.”
He made an appointment with his doctor, Elizabeth Burgess, at the Fitzalan Surgery three days later where he was prescribed small dosages of anti-depressant citalopram and anti-anxiety drug diazepam.
However his mother said he never took them.
Dr Burgess said she did not believe he was a suicide risk after carrying out an assessment, despite knowing probation officers had deemed him to be high risk.
Wiping her eyes with a tissue, the tearful doctor said: “I really truly did believe he came to me looking for help and had come for medication.”
West Sussex Coroner Elisabeth Bussey-Jones recorded a conclusion of suicide.