The Jamie Act
The Jamie Act
Open letter to our QLD Health Minister and House of Representatives,
Our names are Nicholas Wood and Samantha Wood, and we are writing to you on behalf of our family in regards to the current Mental Health Act 2016.
Five weeks ago, we lost our brother to suicide. It has completely shattered our family to pieces, and we all will never be the same again because of the circumstances surrounding his death and the events that lead to it. There are many factors involved in suicides but from what we have noticed in our own brothers treatment and care, there are significant flaws in the current Mental Health Act 2016, and our system in our hospitals that evidently failed our brother. More importantly, it appears that not all mental health illnesses aren’t actually covered under the Mental Health Act 2016, therefore many vulnerable people are falling through the cracks, and feel they have no other option but to take their own lives.
Our brother Jamie Wood struggled with mental health illness for 13 years. He has been in our system for 13 years, being consistently knocked back. He suffered through late teenage years up until recently where he tragically took his own life by the way of hanging, in his Bowen Hills apartment in Brisbane, at the age of 31.
At an early age he was diagnosed with ADHD and was being treated for that condition until mid to late teenage years. Unfortunately, ADHD isn’t dealt with in the best of ways for adults and this only added to our brothers struggle. Furthermore, Jamie was recently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) earlier this year. Our brother was seeking help for his conditions but as BPD isn’t looked at as a ‘mental health illness’ under the current Mental Health Act, his treatment was always minimal and or/ dismissed. Our brother struggled to seek help because there is just not enough support for BPD sufferers, or patients with complex post traumatic disorder.
Jamie was admitted to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on many occasions with significant and severe self inflicted injuries (Cutting his wrists so bad that he lost function of his hands and requiring emergency surgery to repair the tendons, on TWO completely different occasions, weeks apart). After being brought in by ambulance, police, had the emergency surgery he was assessed and released less then 24 hours later. His hospital visits become so frequent the staff started to remember him. Towards the end of his life, he was frequently attending the emergency department under an EEA Order by police as he was at a high risk of suicide, even presenting to the hospital after leaving a suicide note, and the RBWH released him after 6-8 hours. How is this acceptable care?
On one occasion, he escaped from the RBWH under a EEA order, as the security staff were clearly not doing their job adequately to ensure mental health patients are where they’re meant to be. Furthermore, the police had to hunt him down for a total of 6 hours, before sister Samantha, found him and returned him to the hospital, only for the hospital to release him after 6 hours. The care he received, in our opinion was in no way adequate or humanely. Our brother received very little care, and support when he was clearly at a high risk of suicide. Not ONCE was he ever admitted as a mental health patient. The system failed our brother, and if something does not change now- we will have further suicides and broken families in the very near future. Our family would like to see a change in the current procedures and systems used in our hospitals as they’re outdated, and clearly NOT working.
As the health minister, we are confident you would be familiar with the term “Ryans Rule”. Ryan's Rule is named after a young boy, Ryan Saunders, who died in a Queensland hospital in 2007 after poor and inadequate treatment. This rule now allows parents to get their child's care reviewed, if they think their concerns aren't being listened to by hospital staff. As we are aware, this does not apply for when someone is in the care of your hospitals under the Mental Health Act or an EEA order.
Our family would like to have a rule, or act specifically for mental health patients, and will confidently be lobbying for this to happen, as there were multiple occasions where our mother and sister Samantha, begged for the staff to involuntary admit our brother as a patient to be re assessed because we did not feel he was safe, and felt he was a risk to himself. However each time, he was let go and the cycle kept being repeated until he could take no more and ended his life. Moving forward, we will be lobbying for “The Jamie Act” where if a family member is concerned their loved one is not receiving adequate mental health care at the time presenting to the hospital or emergency department, they will be reviewed by the most senior mental health PSYCHIATRIST on shift to be re assessed.
We would like to have a face to face meeting with you, to voice our concerns about our brothers care, so no other family has to go through the pain we have had to endure and more importantly for the people that are suffering mental health illnesses and are over looked or pushed into “the too hard basket”.
You should note that since our brothers death, Samantha recently received a call from a staff member of the RBWH Acute mental health team- who advised her that since Jamie’s death- they are conducting an ‘internal review’ of the system, and to look at what went wrong in Jamie’s case. This proves and indicates that there are significant issues and links missing in our hospital system for mental health patients that are at a high risk of suicide. It is evident that more can be done to ensure a mental health patient, like Jamie, receives the care they deserve to help them with their mental health illness, and ultimately save their life. On this occasion, your hospital, staff, the system, and the Mental Health Act failed our brother.
As you would be aware there is a serious issue with suicide in our country, and as Nicholas is a current member of the Australian Defence Force, we can have comfort in knowing there is a Royal Commission into veteran suicide where things have the capacity to be improved in that area to support veterans, however this does not help people like our brother who was/is not a serving member.
Our family has written to the QLD State Coroner requesting she conduct a Coronial Investigation into our brothers death, and the failures that were evident in our brothers hospital care at the RBWH, and we hope you will seriously consider our request in having a meeting to further discuss this very serious issue.
Jamie Wood’s Siblings.