A British mental health blogger died at a secure psychiatric facility after opening a package from Russia.
Beth Matthews was being treated for a personality disorder at the time of her death and was not supposed to open her own mail during admission at mental health facility, the Priory Cheadle Royal Hospital, in 2022.
However “inconsistencies” in her care meant the 26-year-old opened a package she ordered online, the New York Post reported.
Ms Matthews quickly suffered a cardiac arrest and was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, an inquest was told on Monday, the Manchester Evening News reported.
The accomplished yachtswoman – who competed in the Fastnet yacht race when she was just 15 – died on March 21 last year while under the supervision of the psychiatric hospital’s staff after being detained under the Mental Health Act for “specialist therapy”, the Times of London reported.
Police coroner’s officer Claire Smith said Ms Matthews’ phone revealed an order from Russia as well as several visits to online forums discussing suicide, the BBC reported.
Officer Smith told the inquest at Stockport Coroner’s Court that police determined there was no criminality involved in her death, the Evening News said.
David Watts, the Priory’s head of risk and safety, said it was “impossible” to monitor patients’ web browsing on their phones – and explained that while the unit’s Wi-Fi has a firewall, patients can access some websites via their 4G and 5G connections, which staff can’t control.
Jurors were told, however, that Ms Matthews was not supposed to be able to open her own mail.
Suzanne Barnard, the Priory’s investigations chief, said there had been an “inconsistent approach” to the delivery of Ms Matthews’ care plan, with some staffers allowing her to open her mail while others did it for her.
She said there had been a “clear” instruction in the care plan that the woman should not open her mail.
“I could not find any evidence that there were other areas [where] the care plan had not been followed,” Ms Barnard reportedly said.
Dr Sumanta Gupta, a consultant psychiatrist at the hospital, told the inquest he had not been informed of a claim Ms Matthews made to the staff that it was “already done now” after a conversation about “things you can purchase that do the job”.
Dr Gupta said that if he had known, he would have launched an immediate review of her care plan.
Assistant Coroner Andrew Bridgman told the jury that Ms Matthews “quite quickly became unwell [and] was taken urgently to hospital where she sadly died” after opening the package, the Times of London reported.
Paramedic Kate Barnes said in a statement said that when she arrived, staffers told her that Ms Matthews “had a parcel delivered to the unit, which she opened in front of them”.
Ms Barnes said she was told that patients were allowed to open their mail if supervised by staff.
The inquest heard that Ms Matthews had suffered from mental health issues from an early age and was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder.
She was reportedly severely injured in a failed suicide attempt in April 2018, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Ms Matthews created a blog documenting her recovery and life living with a spinal cord injury.
In May 2021, she was reunited with the “brave” police officer who she credited with saving her life.
“This moment meant the world to me and reminded me just how grateful I am to be alive,” she wrote.
In a statement read during the hearing, Ms Matthews’ mother, Jane, said her daughter was “an incredible character” who was “bright and vivacious” and “would light up the lives” of everyone she came across.
Ms Matthews was “caring, intelligent and articulate,” loved sports and excelled at sailing.
She leaves behind her partner Matt Parkinson, who she wrote a heartfelt message to on social media for their seventh anniversary in January 2022.
“You’ve been by my side through some of the absolute best and some of the absolute worst times of our lives, but I am forever grateful for you,” she wrote.
– with New York Post