Mother of girl (11) who died by suicide describes mental health services as 'woefully inadequate'

Mother Of Girl (11) Who Died By Suicide Describes Mental Health Services As 'Woefully Inadequate'
Milly Tuomey's family – mother Fiona, father Tim and sister Daisy – spoke to the media outside the High Court on Wednesday. Photo: Collins
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High Court reporters

The mother of an 11-year-old girl who died by suicide has described how her daughter had struggled, adding the family had sought help in the eight weeks before her death, but her voice had not been heard.

Weeks before taking her own life, Milly Tuomey posted the date on which she intended to die on Instagram, her mother Fiona told the High Court.


Ms Tuomey said she and Milly's father sought to access help for their daughter, but described the State's mental health services as "woefully inadequate".

"We want her voice to be heard now," Ms Tuomey told the court.

"Her voice was not heard during that eight weeks she struggled. We can’t bring our child back but by bringing this case for her it will be a small justice for Milly and there will be some change to the services provided."

Ms Tuomey was speaking in the High Court as her family settled an action over Milly's death in January 2016 for €65,000.


During the eight weeks in which the family sought assistance, a suicide diary was found, and there was an urgent referral to mental health services in December 2015. However, an appointment was only given for January 5th, 2016, a day after Milly died.

'Systemic wide series of errors'

Counsel for Milly's family, Pearse Sreenan SC instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, told the High Court it was their case that there was "systemic wide series of errors" by all involved in Milly’s care between November 2015 and January 2016.

He told the court that eight weeks after the family first sought help by bringing Milly to a doctor, she was found by her sister Daisy at home. Milly was taken to hospital, where she died later.

He said experts on their side were highly critical of the way the system let down Milly and the Tuomey family, adding that the family were not taking legal proceedings to seek monetary compensation, but to highlight the issues in the mental health system.


Ms Tuomey, of Cypress Downs, Tempelogue, Dublin, had on behalf of her family brought the action against the HSE, a doctor, an art therapist, private clinic An Cuan Centre for Psychological Services, trading as An Cuan, with registered offices at Rathgar Avenue, Dublin, and St John of God Community Services Company Ltd, trading as Lucena Clinic Services with registered offices in Stillorgan, Dublin.

In the proceedings, it was claimed that Milly took her own life having allegedly not been properly or adequately referred, treated or assessed.

The HSE and St John of God Community Services admitted they failed to provide treatment to Milly within an acceptable timeframe, but it was denied that her untimely death was caused by alleged negligence on their part.

The doctor denied all claims.


Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told a settlement had been reached after mediation and an order could be made against the HSE, the doctor and St John of God Community Services.

Counsel asked for judgement against An Cuan Centre for Psychological Services, as it had entered no appearance.

Deficits in care

In an apology read to the court, the management of St John of God Community Services apologised for the deficits in care provided to Milly.

"She was not provided with treatment within an acceptable timeframe, and we appreciate this gave rise to a missed opportunity in respect of her care."


It added: "We acknowledge the profound and devastating impact that Milly’s death has had on you all."

The letter, which was signed by chief executive Clare Dempsey, offered sincere condolences to Milly’s family, and said that following Milly's tragic death, a waiting list initiative was introduced to streamline assessments and treatment paths to reduce waiting times.

It also stated Lucena Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) has now implemented its own clinical governance group and the service is now linked in with Health Link.

It explained the Camhs hub has been established as part of a national clinical programme which reviews urgent referrals, and response time to urgent referrals is within 72 hours.

Ms Tuomey told the court that Milly sparkled and had an abundance of gifts.

"She was deeply loved, not just by her parents and her sister Daisy, but her grandparents, cousins, and all her family, and she had many friends, but that did not protect her from going through a mental health crisis," Milly's mother said.

Ms Tuomey added: "Milly has left an enormous void in our lives."

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was a most tragic and heartbreaking case, and offered his sympathies to the Tuomey family.

Outside the Four Courts in Dublin, Ms Tuomey said: "Today, Milly’s voice was heard."

Referring to the apology offered in court, she said apologies mean very little unless they are followed up with real change.

"Unfortunately, in the seven years since Milly died by suicide, many have died by suicide. I would like to see real change.

"It is too late for our child, but hopefully it will not be too late for other children."

"Mental health in this country has been undervalued, and it needs to be addressed by the Minister for Health," Ms Tuomey said.

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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