Friday, January 27, 2023

Is Thurrock sitting on a mental health "ticking time bomb"?

A STRANGE thing happened at the back of the YourThurrock site last week.

Every morning, we check our daily statistical returns. How many page views, how many unique views, which stories were most popular etc.

It will come as no surprise that the most popular story for Friday Feb 26th was the traffic chaos in Thurrock for example.

But did you know that the most popular story for Sunday Feb 28th was a story that was written on Feb 27th, 2015….It was the story that detailed the death of South Ockendon teenager, Toni Connell.

We checked our stats. Between Feb 1st and Feb 25th, the story had exactly zero page views. Hardly surprising. It was over a year old. But then Friday Feb 26th, it had 20 unique views, Saturday Feb 27th, it had 84 unique views and then Sunday Feb 28t, it had 2,874 unique views.

This could be a total red herring, some unexplained IT glitch. We asked IT who told us that the link all came through Facebook.

So what caused just under 3,000 people. A third of the population of South Ockendon to look at the story?

It all came as part of a torrid weekend. On Saturday, we were aware of the death of a man, found dead in South Ockendon. On Sunday, a woman fell to her death from the Dartford Crossing. On Monday we were aware that a South Ockendon teenager was found dead at home earlier in the month.

We will allow inquests to detail the background to all events.

But this all does beg further questions regarding the state of mental health in Thurrock.

1. How many suicides took place in 2015?

2. How many attempted suicides took place in 2015.

3. How many people made a "suicidal gesture" in 2015?

4. How many people were sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2015?

5. How many people attended a doctors surgery (in Thurrock) and detailed symptoms of depression/suicidal thoughts in 2015?

6. How many people are on medication for depression in 2015?

We could spread the net further into the realm of the criminal justice system.

Ho many people are arrested but due to mental illness, have limited capacity to understand the charge and so, is the last place they should be going to, is a 5 by 5 police cell?

There are so many questions,. We are sure there are so many agencies working in these fields and addressing so many issues.

We can’t say we see that many press releases on the issues.

Last month, Children’s Mental Health was an item on the agenda of Thurrock Council’s Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

We attended the meeting and found it all a bit vague. Certainly none of the above questions appeared to be asked.

Infact one question that could have been asked is: "Is there a suicide strategy?"

We think this is a subject that we are trying to get to the bottom of. Or at least, ask a few questions.

To be continued…


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