Woman who fell from third floor balcony of Hartlepool care complex ‘took her own life’


A CORONER has ruled that a woman killed herself by throwing herself from the third floor balcony of a residential care complex,

But Hartlepool coroner Malcolm Donnelly said that “doubt exists” as to the exact intentions of Susan Anne Arnell, who died from head injuries after stepping from the apartment in Wethers Nook, in the town’s Hartfields retirement village.

At an inquest into her death at Hartlepool County Court, 58-year-old Susan’s family expressed concern at the decisions made by a team of NHS mental health nurses who assessed her as being of “low risk of killing herself”.

They believed she should have been placed into a mental health unit for assessment.

But after reviewing all of the evidence in the case, Mr Donnelly found no wrong-doing from the authorities.

He said: “Susan went off the balcony and killed herself.

“I actually don’t think anybody could have anticipated that.

“We knew she was unhappy and had self-harmed but to actually take that fatal step was something that wasn’t reasonably anticipated and everybody who learned about it was shocked.”

When her mum passed away from cancer aged 78, and her dementia-suffering father was taken into a home, Susan’s mental state was assessed at Sandwell Park, in Hartlepool, and it was decided that she could move into a flat at Hartfields.

A visit by the mental health workers was made the day before her death and they again assessed her as being of low risk as she was talking about future plans and how she was going to play bingo the following day.

Mental health nurse Stuart Newton told the hearing: “There was no more evidence of her wanting to harm herself.”

Susan then spent the night alone and the following morning, at 9.30am on Monday, September 3, last year, Mr Newton received a phone call from her while she was in a very distressed state.

He set off to go to Susan’s home.

But when he arrived at 9.50am she was lying on the ground outside.

Mr Donnelly said: “Susan was upset about the loss of her mother and I have to say that all of the statutory agencies involved with Susan behaved properly.”

He ruled that: “Susan killed herself but doubt exists as to her intentions.”