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
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
News
A girl plays on a Sony 'PS Vita' portable games console
news
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
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

    Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

    £8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

    Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

    £55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

    Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

    Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines