Daily Mail

Anxious grandad told ‘to try sudoku’ took his own life

- By Andrew Levy

A PENSIONER who killed himself after developing severe anxiety and depression had been told by NHS staff to ‘try sudoku’ to lift his mood, an inquest has heard.

Alan Hunter, 72, was advised to try playing the puzzle because there were no psychiatri­sts available for people his age, his daughter claimed.

His family were left feeling ‘hopeless’ as his mental health deteriorat­ed before he took his own life in October 2020. Mr Hunter’s daughter, Claire Parker, told the hearing in Norwich of her frustratio­n at the treatment the retired glazier received from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

‘They offered no solutions and everything just felt hopeless. He was offered no advice or support and nothing was investigat­ed,’ she said. ‘One thing that has really stuck with me is that during one particular moment of depression it was suggested that he try sudoku.’ Mr Hunter’s wife died

in 2012 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but his daughter said his mental health did not deteriorat­e until 2019, when he was put on anti-depressant­s.

The father of two made two suicide attempts before he was found dead at his home in October 2020. In the period before his death, Mr Hunter was referred for treatment and became an in-patient at Northgate Hospital in Great Yarmouth and Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich.

During one meeting, the family was told there were no psychiatri­c experts who could help someone his age. Ms Parker added: ‘I felt like I was the one to manage my dad’s mental health crisis.’

Sue Jones, the former manager of the mental health team that dealt with Mr Hunter, said he had a consultati­on with a doctor who specialise­d in care for the over-70s.

She said the family had expressed concern and asked for a second opinion but there

‘Everything just felt hopeless’

was no one else with ‘the skills to engage with older persons’.

Senior mental health nurse Kathryn Wyer said she spoke to Ms Parker in October 2020 after her father’s suicide attempt. Ms Parker revealed she and her sister were struggling to care for him as they had children and jobs.

Ms Wyer told the hearing she was aware Mr Hunter was on medication and it ‘possibly wasn’t working’, adding: ‘I believed that Mr Hunter was safe with his daughter and there was no immediate risk.’

She said Ms Parker could have dialled 999 in the event of ‘an immediate threat to life’. The inquest continues.

▪ For confidenti­al support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit samaritans.org

 ?? ?? Struggle: Alan Hunter, 72
Struggle: Alan Hunter, 72

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