Published: 17:30, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 17:50, 13 January 2021
A mum who drowned her twin babies in the bath had told a therapist days before that her children were the main reason she had not taken her own life, an inquest has been told.
Samantha Ford said she classed 23-month-old Chloe and Jake as her "strong protective factors", giving her a reason to live in December 2018.
But four days later, on Boxing Day, the 39-year-old - who was struggling with the breakdown of her marriage - killed the twins at their Margate home.
Details of her fragile mental state continued to emerge during the third day of an inquest into the deaths of the children.
Gemma Sumner, a leader at talking therapy service Insight Healthcare, told the hearing how the twins' presence was preventing Ford from acting on any suicidal thoughts.
She said: "People rate protective factors and describe anything from children to their pet, car and religion - there are many things people can rate as their protective factors.
"It's a question we're asking that if they were having suicidal thoughts, what might it be that would prevent them from acting on those thoughts, so what is it that might stop them.
"In this case she identified that her twins would prevent her from acting on any thoughts of taking her own life.
"They were presented as a strong protective factor.
"They were sometimes acting as protective factors in the sense that the suicidal thoughts were coming and going.
"When we look at the duration, the thoughts were lasting a couple of minutes to hours a day. As they were intensifying in nature, those protective factors may have weakened slightly. But as they reduced in their intensity, then the twins were acting as stronger protective factors."
Ford's lawyer, Brenda Campbell, questioned whether the parental bond between the children and their mother put the youngsters at an increased level of harm, but Ms Sumner said "there were no specific concerns".
"That isn't something we have seen within our service," she said.
"There was nothing specific which gave us indication these children were at risk."
Ms Campbell alluded to an NSPCC report from 2016 which "really raises stark concerns" about allowing infants to become protective features in parents' lives.
In reading out a paragraph from the report, she said: "Children should never be considered a protective factor for parents who are feeling suicidal.
"In some cases, professionals inappropriately use the child as a protective element to reduce the parent's risk of self harm. This belief significantly increases the risk to the child."
'Children should never be considered a protective factor for parents who are feeling suicidal...'
Ms Sumner, who is currently on maternity leave from Insight, said today was the first time she had heard of the NSPCC findings. But she did state there may have been training based on the report during 2019.
On Boxing Day 2018, Ford held her children under water in the bath of their Margate home, then dressed them in nappies and baby grows, and wrote a note saying "please forgive my crazy mind".
She then drove to Beachy Head where she stayed for some time before attempting suicide by driving into the back of a lorry on the A299 Thanet Way.
She admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and was jailed for 10 years, but is currently serving her sentence in a secure psychiatric facility.
The inquest continues.