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Suicide bid arsonist 'was denied help'

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: November 02, 2012

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A WOMAN convicted of arson in what was her second attempt to take her own life has claimed she did not get enough support during her long battle with depression.

Two weeks ago at Truro Crown Court Pamela Palfrey received a 52-week suspended jail sentence for arson.

She set fire to a duvet in her Fowey home in a failed suicide attempt that caused £30,000 of damage.

Mrs Palfrey is now vowing to make sure others in a similar situation get the support they need.

Eighteen months prior to the arson a deeply depressed Mrs Palfrey swallowed 80 paracetamol tablets.

After assessment at both the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro and later at Long Reach House in Redruth, she says, she was assured help would be forthcoming – only to receive a call from independent agency Outlook South West saying she didn't fit its criteria and suggesting another assessment.

"My reply was, 'Do you not talk to each other? I've just been assessed twice'.

"I was told it would be followed up and Outlook Southwest would be talking to the Mental Health Trust and get back to me, so while they tried to sort it out I waited patiently."

Finding it difficult to cope Mrs Palfrey, who said she had suffered more than 35 years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, sought help again in February. "Again I was told I couldn't be treated by either Outlook Southwest or the Mental Health Trust as they couldn't decide whose jurisdiction I was in," she said.

Both she and her partner, Nick Bancroft, said they were astonished at the lack of help available and claimed it was not until after her second suicide bid that she was given advice on self-help or the low-cost clinics that could have offered the support she needed.

"I totally regret my actions of March and I am mortified and devastated at the damage caused," she said.

"I have personally written to the owner of the house and I will have to live with what I have done and, believe me, it's hard.

"If I'd known about self-help a year ago I wouldn't be in this situation.

"What makes me sad is that I wonder how many people go on to commit suicide because they fall through the net."

Mrs Palfrey said she planned to raise awareness of the help available, taking the first steps by setting up an e-mail account at wedontcryoutloud@yahoo. co.uk to offer advice to anyone seeking help on where to turn. She also has plans for a website.

Outlook South West said it could not comment on individual cases.

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