Husband of woman who died by suicide says mental health system is 'broken'

Husband Of Woman Who Died By Suicide Says Mental Health System Is 'Broken'
Darren Coleman's wife Nicola Keane died by suicide in October 2020. Photo: Collins
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High Court reporters

A man whose wife died by suicide and whose seven-month-old baby son died has told a High Court judge that the mental health system in Ireland is broken.

Darren Coleman was speaking in the High Court as he settled an action over the care received by his 34-year-old wife, Nicola Keane, who had post-natal depression and psychosis after the birth of their baby boy, Henry.


Nicola’s body was discovered at Lower Rd Strawberry Beds in West Dublin on October 22nd, 2020, at 3.45am.

When gardaí called to her home in Lucan, Co Dublin, to inform her husband of her death, Darren Coleman, who had been asleep, found his son Henry lifeless in the back bedroom.

Counsel Bruce Antoniotti SC, instructed by Rachael Liston solicitor, said the facts were both harrowing and distressing, adding that Mr Coleman has been living a nightmare since October 2020.

Darren Coleman with his wife Nicola Keane. Photo: Collins

Counsel said on October 21st, 2020, Ms Keane, who was a paediatric nurse, had offered to go to the spare room with Baby Henry, who had become unsettled late at night.

Counsel said before Ms Keane left the house, she administered a lethal level of medication to the baby.

Mr Coleman, from Lucan, Dublin, sued Children’s Health Ireland and the HSE over the circumstances leading to the death of his wife and the aftermath.

It was claimed the mother and baby were owed a duty of care in and about the investigation, diagnosis, management, treatment and care of the mother’s severe mental illness and the identification of the risk of the mother committing infanticide and the risk of suicide.


Children’s Health Ireland denied all claims, but the HSE admitted a breach of duty by failing to appreciate that Ms Keane had suffered from psychotic depression, failing to communicate this to her husband, and failing to ensure she received patient treatment before October 13th, 2020.

Mental health is not a priority in this country.

An apology on behalf of the Dublin South, Kildare and West Wicklow Mental Health Services was read to the court.

Mr Coleman, who settled his action after mediation, told the judge : "I am Henry Coleman's father and Nicola Keane’s husband. I'm a widower and a father of a deceased seven-month-old baby boy.


"Nicola had post-partum psychosis after our son Henry's birth. She never hid her illness from her medical team. She repeatedly told them she wasn't getting better and spoke about the concerning thoughts she had."

He described his son as beautiful and inquisitive, and said people complimented that he was gorgeous.

He told Mr Justice Coffey: "The mental health system in Ireland is broken. Mental health is not a priority in this country.

"Investment in mental health is a necessity. People with mental health issues don't receive the same level of care as those who have a physical condition."


He also told those involved in his wife’s care not to blame themselves.

"I'm not here to blame any individual involved in Nicola and Henry's care in the HSE. You are not to blame yourselves," he said.

Counsel told the court that in August 2020, when Mr Coleman informed the care team that he was going back to work, he was told everything was fine and his wife’s post-natal depression had improved.

Counsel said Mr Coleman completely trusted his care team, but between September and October 2020, Ms Keane’s medication was increased twice as her mental state deteriorated.

Counsel said if Mr Coleman had been told of his wife’s condition he would not have gone back to work.

"She was deteriorating unbeknownst to her husband," Counsel said.

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a tragic and distressing case, and extended his deepest sympathy to Mr Coleman and the extended families.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can freephone the Samaritans 24 hours a day for confidential support at 116 123 or email Alternatively, the contact information for a range of mental health supports is available at

In the case of an emergency, or if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, dial 999/112.

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