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Dana Baker's 'risk of suicide varied' psychiatrist tells inquest
Updated 5:19pm Friday 9th May 2014 in News
TRAGIC teenager Dana Baker had post traumatic stress and panic disorders and her risk of suicide varied depending on whether she was feeling rejected, a psychiatrist told an inquest.
The bright Stourport High School and VIth Form Centre A level student, who was 16 when she was found hanging from a tree near the Worcester Road island in Kidderminster in March 2001, had low self-esteem despite her many achievements, said Dr Jonathan Griffiths.
Dr Griffiths, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist for the Worcestershire Child and Family Service in South Worcestershire, saw Dana about a dozen times between October 2009 and January 2011.
He told the Stourport inquest that, at times of anxiety, she felt her arms were ‘unreal’ and she had a fear of being alone.
She had ideas about hanging herself, jumping off a building or running in front of a vehicle and Dr Griffiths said there was a risk of suicide or death from misadventure through harming herself but that varied.
She needed to feel safe in her foster care placement and in her relationship with the clinicians treating her, he said.
“Dana Baker had post traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder – her suicide risk varied during the time I saw her,” he said.
On October 15 2009, he found her mood was low and she had ideas of suicide – but without an intention to kill herself, added Dr Griffiths.
Six days later she cut her arm with scissors in the toilet at the Bishop Perowne School in Worcester, which she then attended.
Senior Coroner Geraint Williams told Dr Griffiths he had been reported, at a multi agency meeting not attended by him on November 2 2009, as having said that she was at risk of self harm but not suicide.
But Dr Griffiths said he did not recall having told anybody that.
The inquest has heard that Dana told staff at her previous school in Wolverley earlier that year that she had been having a relationship with her karate instructor, who was in his 40s.
The instructor, Jaspal Riat, formerly of Denewood Avenue, Handsworth, Birmingham, was jailed for eight years in September 2011 for sexually abusing her.
In May 2009 she took an overdose and was later treated at a psychiatric unit in Stoke-on-Trent before being discharged into foster care, with support from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
During the hearing the coroner grilled Dana’s first social worker, Deana Newman, about an alleged failure to carry out a risk assessment on the vulnerable teenager and a lack of evidence about how she was ‘matched’ with foster carers.
She disagreed with a question from him asking if she had just been ‘ticking boxes’.
Under later questioning from Bernard Thorogood, representing Worcestershire County Council, having read her notes through again the night before, she gave a much fuller account of her records of her dealings with Dana.
She detailed her input into a risk assessment and into the forms aimed at matching the teenager to suitable foster carers.
The risk assessment included strategies that a carer could use to lift Dana’s mood if she was anxious.
The inquest continues.