Lauren Bridges

Selfie of a teenage girl with her dark-blond hair in braids; she has fair skin, blue eyes, and braces on her teeth. She is smiling, and wearing a gray Minnie Mouse shirt.Name: Lauren Bridges.
Died: February 26, 2022.
Age at death: 20.
Cause of death: Suicide/Systemic Failure (Suicide after long-term inadequate treatment).
Location: Manchester, England, UK.

Details:
Lauren was a brilliant student who wanted to be either a doctor or a pediatric nurse. Her mother remembers her as loving and gentle.

When Lauren was eight, her younger brother Alfie died of mitochondrial disease, and Lauren’s grief triggered OCD and anxiety about protecting her family. She would perform rituals to calm her anxiety about her family coming to harm.

By fourteen years old, Lauren knew she was mentally ill, and asked for help. She was hospitalized voluntarily. But the unit had no therapy, and no treatment plan. Her autism was misdiagnosed as a personality disorder until she was 17 years old.

Over the next several years, Lauren was an inpatient in six different facilities, and none offered adequate treatment. She had little or no therapy and few activities. She was locked away from daylight and exercise. Sometimes, she was put into seclusion without even a bed–just a ground sheet to sleep on.

Lauren died from suicide while hospitalized.

Lauren’s mother, who fought to try to get Lauren the care she needed when she was alive, is now collecting signatures on a petition to keep autistic children from being detained in hospitals far away from home and away from their parents, to prevent autism from being misdiagnosed as a personality disorder, to establish suicide-prevention measures, and to provide therapy and activities for all inpatients in mental wards and psychiatric hospitals.

References:
‘My autistic daughter died after eight months locked up in psychiatric unit’
Young autistic girl dies in inpatient unit
Help for Lauren – Transforming care for autistic children under the Mental Health Act
Justice for Lauren – Autism & mental health – STOP FAILING OUR MOST VULNERABLE #lollyslaw

Ayushi Majethia

Photo of a young Indian woman, her dark hair cut short, a small scar across her eyebrow and one eye turned slightly outward, looking at the camera with a thoughtful expression.Name: Ayushi Majethia.
Died: March 27, 2021.
Age at death: 27.
Cause of death: Accidental/Negligence (Dehydration/pneumonia after going missing).
Location: Chembur, Maharashtra, India.

Details:
Ayushi, who had intellectual disability as well as autism, went to a nearby temple with her mother. They became separated, and Ayushi got lost. The family went to police, asking for help. They showed the police her mental health certificate. Her brother explained that Ayushi was a vulnerable disabled person and they needed to start searching for her right away, because she could easily be hurt on her own.

But the police did not file a First Information Report until Ayushi had been missing for 17 days. Some people saw her on the trains, and one of Ayushi’s friends who saw her also called the police; but nothing was done.

It wasn’t until May 3 that Ayushi’s family were informed that she was dead. Her body had been found two days after she went missing; she had died of dehydration and pneumonia, and her body had been cremated a day later because all the mortuaries were full of COVID victims. Her family had to identify her from pictures.

Had the police acted when they asked for help, Ayushi’s family believes she would be alive today.

References:
Mumbai: Family claims police delay led to missing autistic woman’s death

Hannah Royle

Photo: Slender teenage girl wearing a baggy pink hooded windbreaker, leaning up against the trunk of a big tree. Her frizzy blond hair is tied up in a ponytail. She has pale skin and hazel eyes; her smile shows crooked teeth.Name: Hannah Royle.
Died: July 1, 2020.
Age at death: 16.
Cause of death: Systemic failure (Delayed treatment of gastric volvulus due to improper triage).
Location: Horsham, England, UK.

Details:
Hannah “enjoyed a full and active life despite a severe learning disability which left her unable to speak.”

When Hannah suddenly became severely ill, with vomiting and belly pain, her parents called the 111 hotline (the NHS urgent medical help line), asked what to do, and were told that a doctor would contact them within twelve hours. Three hours later, with Hannah in severe pain, her worried parents called again and were told to drive Hannah to Accident & Emergency. No ambulance was dispatched.

On the drive to the hospital, Hannah stopped breathing. Her mother did CPR, and Hannah’s father drove them to the hospital as fast as he could. There, Hannah was resuscitated. Doctors repaired a gastric volvulus–a medical emergency, in which the stomach becomes twisted and pinched off–but her brain had been without oxygen too long, and after ten days she was declared brain-dead. Her parents agreed to donate her organs.

The UK’s 111 health hotline is meant to assist people with medical emergencies. It is a service that used to be run by nurses, but now employs workers who are not required to have any health-care training except for a short-term training course in how to follow an algorithm meant to determine which medical problems are serious. The algorithm itself is not written to account for people with disabilities who may show pain and illness differently from the average person. In the opinion of the coroner who reviewed the case, the operators at the 111 hotline were not correctly using the algorithm.; even if they had, the abdominal pain category of the algorithm was badly-written and could not be trusted to detect emergencies.

Hannah’s parents are taking legal action.

References:
Autistic teenager died after NHS 111 ‘failed’, rules coroner
NHS 111 ‘failed’ Horsham teen who died following delays
Hannah Royle: Prevention of future deaths report
Coroner accuses NHS of misleading the public with 111 call handlers

Sammy Alban-Stanley

Teenage boy with sandy hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, wearing a blue T-shirt and smiling. He is sitting at a wooden table; in front of him is a clear plastic cup filled with a fizzy drink.Name: Sammy Alban-Stanley.
Died: April 26, 2020.
Age at death: 13.
Cause of death: Accidental fall.

Details:
Sammy, older brother to three sisters, was an expert woodworker. He found working with his hands very satisfying and, by the young age of 13, had become quite skilled, often calling on community members to teach him new techniques. He had also learned upholstery, sewing, and gardening, and enjoyed playing the piano and riding horses. Every morning he went to a local pub with his mother for a lime and soda.

He knew everyone in his neighborhood, from the workers at the local timber merchant’s to the elderly neighbor he often visited for a cup of tea. Sammy was polite, kind, and honest; he liked people, and they liked him. Whenever someone did him a favor, his thank-you was sincere and warm-hearted.

Sammy had Prader-Willi syndrome as well as autism. He had a tendency to do dangerous things, referred to by the inquest into his death as “episodes of high-risk behavior”; on one occasion he had tried to jump out of the car while they were going down a major highway; on another, he had tried to drown himself in the sea. His mother responded to these episodes by restraining Sammy, but he was thirteen and growing.

(I have been unable to determine whether these episodes were suicidal, attempts to escape something that was hurting or distressing Sammy, or represented simple unawareness of danger. As is often the case, the media does not seem interested in the disabled person’s perspective. They merely blame the behavior on Prader-Willi syndrome and assume it needs no further explanation. The best guess I can make is that Sammy’s dangerous behavior was associated with disappointment or sudden, unexpected events, which, to an autistic person, can feel like being thrown into icy water. –Ed.)

During COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Sammy’s “episodes” became more frequent. His Prader-Willi made him particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, so Sammy had to isolate at home, thus losing the services he had had at school.

His mother called for help, but the child and adolescent mental health team evaluated him and proclaimed him to be a low risk. His mother applied for respite care, but because Sammy’s needs were too high, she never received it. Sammy was rejected by the Children with Disabilities team because, on paper, he didn’t seem disabled enough to need it–leaving his case to social workers who weren’t experienced with disabled children and didn’t know how to help him.

So Sammy’s mother resorted to calling the police almost every day. When Sammy had “episodes”, they would come and “help contain” Sammy. He was handcuffed on several occasions. Twice, he was detained under the mental health act.

Down the road from Sammy’s home were some cliffs; there, Sammy climbed over the protective railings and fell. He was taken to the hospital, but only lived four days before dying from severe head injuries.

Sammy’s mother plans to start a workshop so that other children like him can also learn to work with their hands, as Sammy did. At the pub where Sammy used to drink lime and sodas, a tree is planted in his memory.

(This case is yet another example of why functioning labels are dangerous: To deny services, one simply has to label a disabled person as “too disabled” or “not disabled enough”, rather than looking at each case on its own merits. –Ed.)

References:
Coroner calls for action after vulnerable teenager dies from cliff fall
Sammy Alban-Stanley inquest: Ramsgate teen’s death was ‘preventable’
I called cops 29 times over my disabled boy, 13, before his tragic death
Boy, 13, who died in cliff fall had ‘inadequate’ care
Mum’s heartache after tragic cliff death of her ‘special boy’, 13
Report says action must be taken over lack of support services which contributed to death of Ramsgate 13-year-old Sammy Alban-Stanley
Inquest into the death of Sammy Alban-Stanley, aged 13
Sammy and The Game
Sammy’s Memorial Fund, organized by Patricia Alban

Callie Lewis

Lewis, CallieName: Callie Lewis.
Died: August 31, 2018.
Age at death: 24.
Cause of death: Suicide/Neglect.
Location: Cumbria, England, UK.

Details:
Callie’s mother describes her daughter as “a spirited, determined, and exceptionally intelligent young woman”.

Callie had depression and had been suicidal. The NHS staff handling her case had no idea how to help an autistic person. They did not attempt to stay in touch with her, nor to maintain her care when a staff member went on sick leave. She was sectioned and hospitalized, but then discharged even though she was still suicidal. Two weeks after the discharge, Callie–who had been researching suicide methods online–was found dead from suicide.

Autistic people who have depression often have trouble maintaining contact with mental health services. For autistic people, initiating contact with a psychologist who is most likely a compete stranger can be daunting, and more so when their concentration and motivation are being sapped by depression. When an appointment is missed–which they often are, because with autism it can be hard to break a routine or leave a predictable environment–it is hard to navigate the social situations involved in making another. If mental health services do not know this about autistic people and do not offer services like appointment reminders, predictable appointment schedules, and home visits, they risk losing track of these patients and losing them to suicide. –Editor

References:
Death of young autistic Dover woman found in tent ‘partly caused by NHS neglect’ – Kent Live
Suicide after ‘gross failure’ by healthcare trust
Family of girl found in tent ‘sincerely hope’ lessons are learned after inquest
Callie Lewis from Dover interacted on suicide website before her body was found
A body has been found in search for missing Dover girl Callie Lewis