North Shore mental health unit patient took his life days after fellow patient’s suspected suicide

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His foster mother raised concern after he rang to say what song he wanted at his funeral.

Warning: Distressing content When Rita Willcox phoned a North Shore mental health unit to raise concerns about the suicide risk of her troubled foster son Tamaki Heke, a nurse reassured her he was in “good care”. Hours later Wilcox learned Heke was dead. The 24-year-old, remembered as personable, talented, and creative, was found unresponsive in his room at Waitematā’s He Puna Waiora mental health unit on May 16, 2019. Advertisement Advertise with NZME. A coroner’s finding has today ruled the death was self-inflicted. It came just four days after a friend and fellow inpatient died in a suspected suicide at the same unit. The double tragedy sparked a series of high-level investigations, including a damning independent review in 2020 which cited poor leadership, staff burnout, and suggested the building’s design assisted patients to take their own lives. In today’s finding, Coroner Alexander Ho outlines Heke’s troubled background which included being diagnosed with ADHD and foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and alcohol and drug abuse. Advertisement Advertise with NZME. The decision also canvasses his extensive history of self-harm and suicide attempts. Heke was first hospitalised in 2013. He reported hallucinations and was discharged after setting a rubbish bin fire and later…

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