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Mother of tragic Callie Lewis found dead in tent wishes she'd never asked for professional help

The mother of a young woman who took her own life has confessed she wished she'd never asked for professional help.

In a heartbreaking BBC Panorama documentary 'Failed by the NHS: Callie’s Story', Sarah Lewis said her daughter Callie may still be alive if she'd not reached out to mental heath teams.

Callie Lewis had posted 200 messages on a suicide forum
Callie Lewis had posted 200 messages on a suicide forum

Her 24-year-old daughter's body was found in a tent in Cumbria on August 21, 2018, just over two weeks after she was released from Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust in Dover.

She had posted around 200 messages on an online suicide forum, which has almost 10,000 registered members.

Mrs Lewis said: "My biggest regret is asking for help, to be honest, because if I'd not handed her over, I think there's a much higher chance that she'd still be alive today.

"I kept her safe all her life and then the moment I ask for help, she stops being safe.

"That's very hard to come to terms with. I feel I made the wrong decision."

Sarah Lewis made a statement outside Session's House following the inquest into her daughter Callie's death
Sarah Lewis made a statement outside Session's House following the inquest into her daughter Callie's death

Callie, who had autism and suffered with depression, was sectioned into a mental health centre after her friend of nine years, Jan, told Mrs Lewis that he'd learned she intended to take her own life.

On breaking his friend's confidence, Jan told the cameras: "My decision was she either lives or dies. It was easy, in that she had to live.

"The consequences of it was very hard but I would do it again, if I had the chance, only hoping this time that it would have worked."

When under their care, Callie denied plans to kill herself and was not contacted by her case worker or a similar professional for 13 days.

During this time, she'd travelled near Windermere in the Lake District and continued to communicate with people via the suicide forums.

Callie Lewis was 24 when she took her own life. Picture: Kent Police
Callie Lewis was 24 when she took her own life. Picture: Kent Police

Raising concern over the forums, Mrs Lewis said: "What we found was a huge amount of very, very vulnerable people, sort of trying to support each other.

"But they were in no fit state to support each other."

It was due to unfilled posts and staff sickness, that Kent and Medway NHS Trust say Callie fell through the cracks of the system.

Dr Charley Baker of School of Health Sciences of University of Nottingham described the service as "on its knees", with "exhausted staff" who cannot manage their workload.

A two-week inquest in Maidstone in November ruled her death was suicide, contributed by neglect.

Callie Lewis was not contacted for 13 days despite fears she would take her own life
Callie Lewis was not contacted for 13 days despite fears she would take her own life

Kent and Medway NHS Trust said: "We were deeply saddened by Callie's tragic death.

"We failed to provide Callie with the standard of care that she and her family should have expected and we apologise unreservedly of this.

"Following Callie's death, we put in place a number of actions to help improve safety and have since embedded an improved set of standard operating procedures within our community mental health teams."

'Failed by the NHS: Callie’s Story' is available on BBC iPlayer

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

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