A GRIEVING mum is hoping to overturn her son’s inquest verdict, which ruled he had taken his own life, as part of her fight to have Worcestershire mental health services ‘held to account’.

Gaynor Pritchard’s son William Zacharia Pritchard, known as Zac, died by suicide aged 29, but she believes negligence should also have been included in the coroner’s verdict.

The former University of Worcester student died the day after he was discharged from the care of South Worcestershire Psychiatric Home Treatment Team and Mrs Pritchard believes they “didn’t seem to grasp” the seriousness of his condition.

She said if this case isn’t made an example of then other services across the country will end up “brushing off” patients who are in serious need of help.

“In my mind there’s doubts on [whether it should be classed as strictly] suicide,” said the 58-year-old mum.

“It’s more to do with that there was not any support there. He didn’t feel any hope left because they’d discharged him back to the GP.”

She said on the day he was released from the care of the home team he had asked what other help was available to him and wrote in his notebook that evening “what now?”

Worcestershire senior coroner David Reid gave a verdict of suicide during an inquest hearing in Stourport on September 5, with Zac having died August 25, 2018.

Ms Pritchard said she is hopeful of launching a judicial review against the verdict but said it will be costly.

While she also plans to take it up with the parliamentary ombudsman once parliament is sitting again after the elections.

Zac had moved to Slough to become a social worker’s assistant in February 2018. On July 28, police took him to Reading Hospital under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act as a place of safety due to concerns about his mental health.

He was then taken back to Worcester by his mum and dad, Andy Pritchard, 56, and was immediately referred to the home treatment team.

Ms Pritchard, who now lives in Tewkesbury, said members of the team came out to see Zac every day for the first week and then every other day.

But while he was on a trip to Edinburgh the decision was apparently made by an occupational therapist to discharge him back to his GP on his return on August 24.

However, his mum claims he had not been seen or assessed by anyone since August 13 and was not seen by a psychiatric nurse or doctor prior to being discharged.

Ms Pritchard said in hindsight the Edinburgh trip was probably not something she should have allowed him to do but he was an adult and had his “own mind” and it was something he wanted to do.

“When somebody is so unwell and they start to get suddenly better it’s very often they have made a plan [for suicide] and it’s like everyone else on the planet is aware of that but not the mental health services in Worcester,” said Mrs Pritchard.

“They did not seem to grasp that.”

She said she was told “because he was happy and future thinking…he was [deemed] fine.”

Zac had been victim of mental health issues all his adult life “on and off”, said his mum, and had “been subject to interventions and in hospital” over the years.

She said the first suicide attempt she was aware of was in December 2010 but that he had battled hard to find coping mechanisms since then.

Mrs Pritchard said following her son’s death she has also sought counselling herself and has been off work since June, having been diagnosed with PTSD “because of the trauma of going through it all”.

“People don’t really appreciate how it affects someone [whose family member has died], especially suicide. There’s quite a high rate of people that are affected by bereavement.”

Mrs Pritchard has therefore set up a charity in Zac’s memory called Behind the Smile and runs a peer support group to “help people who are bereaved…because there’s nothing [else like that] in Worcester”.

A future aim of the peer support group is to support those with mental ill health, if and when funding can secured.

She said other services, for example at St Richard’s Hospice, are too “time limited” and don’t provide the sort of regular ongoing support she feels people need.

While His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC, the Chief Coroner of England and Wales has told her that while it is not in his remit to overturn an inquest verdict, he will be including her case in future training sessions, she said.

Zac was a Labour Party activist, who spoke at TUC conferences, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, regularly attending Pride rallies.

He graduated from UoW in 2017 where he was also a Student Union Diversity Officer.

He is survived by his parents and his brother Jon Pritchard, aged 34.

Matthew Hall, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust’s chief operating officer, said: “We offer our sincere condolences to Zac’s family at what we recognise is an extremely difficult time for them.

“We also recognise the devastating impact suicide has on family and friends. Whilst we fully understand the family’s concerns, we are assured that following the independent coroner’s inquest and our own internal review that our staff provided an appropriate level of care to Zac to support his complex mental illness.

“We are currently in communications with Zac’s family to arrange a meeting to discuss concerns in more detail.”

If you are suffering with suicidal thoughts, you can contact Samaritans in confidence for free from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit.

Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your local branch of Samaritans where you can talk to one of its volunteers face to face.