At last, there is some positive news regarding the suicide of Josh Klumper. The seventeen-year old took his life, after being denied the timely help he needed at the Gold Coast University Hospital.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of his mother Ursula Skjonnemand, supporters and an online petition, a coroner’s inquest will take place, although a date has not yet been set.
Josh, diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder), was not coping and desperately needed help. On 2 September last year, he went to the hospital with his grandmother.
But instead of immediate assistance, he was made to wait for four hours and told that he could not be seen on that night. For someone suffering from severe mental health stress, this can be a disaster, and the hospital should have known this.
Agitated, Josh walked out. The hospital did not follow up until three days later. It was too late. He had attempted to take his life and eventually died in hospital.
In a health system that is working properly a failure of duty of care like this, would not happen. A process to deal with in would be in place. The fact that the failure occurred, indicates that the hospital lacks the resources and the staff the training needed. The inquest must uncover the details of this.
This has not been the only failure. It is a disgrace that Josh’s mother and supporters had to battle to be heard. An inquest into a death in such circumstances should be routine. The reason why this didn’t take place should be explained, and the criteria for the intervention of the coroner changed, so that there can be a quick and adequate response.
It begs the question. How many others have been treated in a similar way at the Gold Coast University Hospital and through the Queensland health system? This needs to be answered as well.
Ursula Skjonnemand told ABC Radio Brisbane she had fought for an investigation to make sure Josh’s story could be a learning experience for others.
She wants this investigation to result in Queensland health taking measures that will ensure others receive the help that her son missed out on. This is an opportunity to save other lives.
The case has prompted Health Minister Steven Miles into a meeting with high-level public servants from the Health Department’s mental health wing and deputy director-general of clinical excellence Dr John Wakefield. Hopefully, this will contribute towards bringing about some change.
But it must be remembered that any action required a push, and it should not have come to this.