East Preston woman dies in Worthing Hospital after drinking bleach

An East Preston woman killed herself after drinking bleach, a coroner has concluded.

Patricia Cochran died on February 13 at Worthing Hospital months after swallowing the toxic fluid at her home in Preston Hall Mews in The Street, East Preston.

The inquest heard that on November 25, the retired secretary called her daughter at around 6am.

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Because the pensioner had a history of ‘making things up to seek attention’, and had never previous expressed suicidal thoughts, her daughter did not believe the 76-year-old - but she still drove to her mother’s home with her husband, the inquest heard.

They arrived and the house was dark so they called out her name, and Ms Cochran called back from her bedroom.

While they could not smell bleach on her breath, the couple found a towel in the kitchen which smelled like bleach so they called 999 immediately.

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She told paramedics she drank the bleach the night before, the inquest heard.

She was then taken by ambulance to Worthing Hospital, where she remained in the intensive treatment unit for a month, followed by the high dependency unit before being moved onto a normal ward in isolation.

While there, she caught a chest infection - but due to the damage to her lungs and throat from the bleach, she could not fight the illness and she died from pneumonia, the inquest heard.

A family statement about her ‘paranoia and mental health’ said she had been treated and supported by the Sussex Partnership NHS Mental Health Trust while in hospital.

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She had previously been diagnosed and medicated for manic psychotic depressive illness, the statement said.

On February 15, Dr Dadwhal from Worthing Hospital reported the cause of death as aspiration pneumonia, oropharyngeal dysphagia - difficulty swallowing - and bleach ingestion.

Assistant coroner Lisa Milner said the cause of death was ‘as a result of ingestion of bleach’ and reached a conclusion of suicide, before passing on her condolences to Ms Cochran’s family.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans may be able to help – the charity’s helpline number is 116 123.

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