'We were not told our mum was at risk of suicide'

Oxford Mail: James Gulliford, son of Jackie Gulliford, said the family would have reacted differently if they had known everything. Picture: Mark Hemsworth James Gulliford, son of Jackie Gulliford, said the family would have reacted differently if they had known everything. Picture: Mark Hemsworth

THE family of a 61-year-old grandmother, who died after going missing, has said they were not properly informed how at risk she was of self-harming.

Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday ruled Jackie Gulliford from Eynsham was “likely” to have committed suicide.

She went missing from her home on January 14 during the floods. Her disappearance sparked a massive police search. However, her body was not found until March 15 in the River Evenlode near Cassington Mill.

Oxford Mail:

Jackie Gulliford.

It emerged at yesterday’s inquest into her death, held at County Hall, that she had been discharged from the Warneford Hospital a week before she went missing.

The inquest heard she had been treated at the Headington facility for depression since December after consuming bleach. After being discharged, Mrs Gulliford, a senior accounts assistant at Worcester College for 16 years, returned to the hospital as a day patient but was told to have a day off – the day she went missing.

After the hearing, her daughter Sarah Cornett, 33, said the family was not told she was at high risk of self-harm or suicide until it was revealed in an investigation report released in April.

Mrs Cornett from Witney, who is a former mental health worker, said: “If we had had the information about risk, we could have supported mum in the community. She would have made a full recovery.”

Mrs Gulliford’s son James, 29, said: “If we’d known everything our reactions would have been very different.”

He said he became concerned when his mother was in the hospital’s day centre, in a group painting activity, and talked to her on the phone.

“I said, ‘Should we be worried about you drawing a cliff?’ And she replied, ‘I hope not.’ And that was the last time I spoke to her.”

The inquest heard a meeting was held at Warneford Hospital, run by Oxford Health, to discuss Mrs Gulliford’s release and risk assessment.

The family said her husband Bruce, 63, was not invited but the hospital’s consultant psychiatrist, Dr Olga-Maria Tsatalou, told the inquest she believed he did attend, even though she was not present herself.

Recording a narrative verdict, assistant coroner Nicholas Graham said: “Mrs Gulliford had a history of psychiatric illness and, although it is likely she took her own life, it is not possible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that she did so.”

An Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said an investigation was being finalised in conjunction with the family.

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