Josh’s suicide was preventable

Contributed by Ben Wilson

Josh William Klumper took his own life on the 5 September 2017. He was only seventeen. Three days before, he had gone to the emergency department of the Gold Coast University Hospital for help.

Instead of getting the help he needed, he was tested for drug use and then made to wait 4 hours. At this point he gave up seeking help and left the hospital.

By the time a follow up was made, it was too late. Josh spent the next 11 days before he died, in a coma in hospital.

Something is obviously wrong, when an emergency service fails to act properly when someone presents with clear mental health issues and is seriously depressed and anxious.

Josh was born with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although he was highly functioning, he had difficulty in processing touch, sound and taste. They were at times so overwhelming and stressful that they propelled Josh into depression. Even more difficult was coping with his inability to understand and respond to social cues. As he progressed into puberty, life became harder to cope with and his depression became more intense. Sometimes it got so bad that he began to get thoughts about suicide.

he may have had some problems, but Josh was still a capable person with a worthwhile life.  He still cared about people and was concerned about the state of the word. As he emerged into his teens, he developed a keen interest in motor bikes and cars and became a capable mechanic.

When he went to the Gold Coast University Hospital for help, clinicians there should have been able to pick up his ASD and mental state sho quickly and the appropriate action should have been taken. In failing, the hospital breached its duty of care.

There must be a coroner’s inquest to get to the bottom of the what happened. This in turn, must lead to an improvement in standards, not just in this one hospital, but through the entire Australian health services system.

Josh’s suicide was preventable. A worthwhile life was snuffed out because help was not there when it was needed. How many more lives have been needlessly lost? Howe long will it continue?

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