Admitted to hospital for depression – two weeks later Jonathan Malia was dead

Family demand answers over death of relative under psychiatric care

The family of a 24-year-old man who died days after being sectioned have demanded information about his final hours – amid growing concern about the number of black men dying in custody.

Jonathan Andel Malia, an otherwise-healthy father-of-one from Bartley Green, Birmingham, voluntarily attended hospital on 4 January after struggling with depression. He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and transferred to two further hospitals before suddenly collapsing two weeks later at the Cygnet Hospital in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

Initial reports from the coroner suggest he died from a "massive pulmonary embolism" on 17 January. But his family say they want to know exact details of his drug treatment and whether any restraining techniques were used in the run-up to his death. Their calls come at a time of increasing concern about how black and ethnic minority patients suffering from mental-health issues are treated by the authorities, following a string of deaths in police custody and hospitals.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Malia's aunt Michelle Fullerton said her family wanted to know how someone who had gone into hospital physically healthy could deteriorate so rapidly.

"We just want to make sure we put an end to this," she said. "He died needlessly. We want answers to come out and recommendations to be made."

Miss Fullerton, the sister of Jonathan's mother who has since been hospitalised over the stress of losing her son, said the family had been left "heart-broken" by his death. She described him as a fit and healthy man who loved playing sport and going to the gym.

"He was such a fun-loving, manageable, intelligent young man," she said. "He was studying to be a sports therapist. It is such a shame all these things happened and he didn't get to fulfil his dreams."

Miss Fullerton said Jonathan had been sectioned once – before shortly after his son was born four years ago. "He'd not been on any medication for a year and a half," she said. "But he saw the symptoms coming back said he wanted help first. I think he thought he'd just get home treatment but instead he was sectioned."

An inquest has been ordered and Cygnet Hospital is awaiting the results of its own internal inquiry. According to Miss Fullerton, Jonathan was moved from Queen Elizabeth to Meadowcroft Psychiatric Unit in the city on the second day of his detention. When his girlfriend Sarah Crawford inquired after him, staff claimed that he was "being aggressive".

On 7 January he was transferred 97 miles to the Chamberlain Ward in Cygnet Hospital, a unit that specialises in treating patients with "an acute episode of mental illness that requires assessment and stabilisation".

Over the course of the next 10 days, Miss Crawford made daily phone calls to find out about his health but was denied access and was told by staff that he was not in a fit state to come to the phone. On 17 January she was told that he had collapsed and had been rushed to the nearby Lister Hospital. He was pronounced dead that day.

In a statement, Cygnet Hospital said it was close to completing a report into Mr Malia's death which would be handed on to the coroner. "Nothing is more important to us than the well-being of those who use our services," the hospital said in a statement. "Whilst we await the final reports we believe that we did all that we could to look after Mr Malia. We have met Mr Malia's family and remain available to speak with them and answer any questions they might have."

Campaigners have long criticised the way hospitals largely investigate themselves following the death of a patient and there is particular concern about the treatment of black and ethnic minority patients suffering mental health episodes. Last year, after years of campaigning for an inquest, a jury found police used unsuitable levels of force to restrain Sean Rigg, a schizophrenic man who died in custody in 2008.

A Cygnet Hospital spokesman said: "We take concerns seriously that there are a disproportionate number of issues regarding members of the African-Caribbean community who enter the mental-health care system. Whilst the level of care that we provide is of the highest standard for everyone, the national statistics demonstrate that close attention needs to be given to this issue."

Mentally ill dying much younger due to neglect

Thousands of people with mental illness are dying prematurely because their physical health is being neglected by the NHS.

Official figures published on Wednesday show the death rate among the 1.5 million people who received treatment in the last year is nearly four times higher than the general population.

The findings, from the most comprehensive analysis of data held by the NHS, expose the chasm that exists between sufferers from physical and mental illnesses. Campaigners said the difference in death rates was "frightening".

The Health and Social Care Information Centre said mortality among mental health service users aged 19 and over was 3.6 times higher than the general population in 2010-11.

The higher overall death rate was also seen in the so-called "lifestyle" diseases of the heart, lungs and digestive system. Deaths from heart disease were two and a half times higher and deaths from respiratory and digestive diseases around four times higher among people with mental illness.

Smoking is common among people with severe mental illness and many also self-medicate with alcohol and drugs such as cannabis. Anti-psychotic drugs prescribed for their illness can cause rapid weight gain. But these side effects are often overlooked or ignored by the NHS.

Simon Lawton Smith, Head of Policy at the Mental Health Foundation said: "This data reveals with frightening clarity the inequalities in health experienced by people with a mental illness, leading to the premature death of thousands of people every year."

Jeremy Laurance

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us