Sally Brampton: Journalist killed herself after 'missed opportunities'

Sally Brampton Image copyright Grant Triplow/REX/Shutterstock
Image caption Sally Brampton launched women's magazine Elle in the UK in the 1980s

Sally Brampton, founding editor of Elle magazine in the UK, killed herself after health professionals "missed opportunities" to offer her help, an inquest has heard.

Ms Brampton, 60, who wrote a Daily Mail advice column, drowned after walking into the sea near her home on 10 May.

Hastings Coroners' Court heard she was "in crisis" in March 2016 and had sought help from a psychiatrist and GP.

But "that help did not come", assistant coroner James Healy-Pratt added.

Ms Brampton, from St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, was pulled ashore at Galley Hill, Bexhill, on 10 May.

The agony aunt, who had spoken out publicly about her long-running battle with depression, had been referred to local mental health services two months earlier, the inquest heard.

However, she was not offered any help and she again contacted a GP in April.

Psychiatrist's letter

It was agreed she was "out of crisis" at this stage. However, the coroner heard her full clinical details - including a letter from her private psychiatrist - had not been provided to the relevant services.

The letter, dated 19 March, stated Ms Brampton was "in crisis" and having "strong suicidal thoughts".

It said Ms Brampton was having feelings of "hopelessness and helplessness", adding that she had spent most of the last week in bed and had hardly left the house.

Ms Brampton had "disengaged" from local services and had "painted a very jaundiced view of them", the letter added.

Mr Healy-Pratt said there was "a missed opportunity" to help Ms Brampton in March and more information should have been provided before the second referral.

"However, we don't know that those missed opportunities would have changed Sally's outcome and that is an important factor," he added.

Mr Healy-Pratt said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Ms Brampton wanted to walk into the sea and he recorded a verdict of suicide.

A 'bright star'

Christine Henham, a general manager at Hastings and Rother mental health services, said lessons had been learned and changes have been made since Ms Brampton's death.

She said the team no longer sends or receive faxes, after the GP said he had faxed the psychiatrist's letter to them.

Ms Brampton had studied fashion at Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design before starting at Vogue.

She became fashion editor at The Observer and was then headhunted to launch women's lifestyle magazine Elle in the UK at the age of 30 in the 1980s.

She later had a weekly agony aunt column in the Sunday Times Style magazine from 2006 until 2014.

In 2008 she gave a personal account of her efforts to overcome depression in her book "Shoot the Damn Dog".

The coroner described Ms Brampton as a "bright star" and began his conclusion with the writer's words: "We don't kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive."

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