Two months after popular Brisbane performer Jamie Wood died by suicide, his family has urged the Queensland authorities to set up an coronial inquiry into his death. The family has also started a change.org petition to lobby for a change to the state’s mental health care laws. 

Warning: This story has details of suicide, discusses suicide ideation and might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

Struggled With Mental Health

Jamie Wood (extreme right) with his siblings Nicholas and Samantha. Image: Facebook

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 Thirty-one year old Jamie was a professional dancer who worked on cruise ships. He was also well-liked and well known in the LGBTQI community for his regular performances at Brisbane’s Fluffy’s Nightclub in Fortitude Valley. The COVID-19 pandemic put him out of work last year and he had looked at starting a new career as a hair dresser.

On August 28, 2021, Jamie was found dead at his Bowen Hills apartment in Brisbane.

Jamie’s family said that he had struggled with his mental health for over a decade, with the system failing him at every stage. Jamie was discharged from the hospital at least four times between April and July, after he was taken to the emergency department for attempting self harm. 

“Jamie struggled with mental health illness for 13 years. He has been in our system for 13 years, being consistently knocked back,” his siblings Samantha and Nicholas said in the petition. 

The family has now written to Queensland’s state coroner seeking an investigation “into our brother’s death, and the failures that were evident in our brother’s hospital care at the Royal Brisbane And Women’s Hospital”.

‘The Care That Jamie Received Was Inadequate’

Jamie Wood. Image: Facebook.

According to the family, Jamie had been diagnosed with ADHD and was treated for the condition from his mid to late teens. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with  Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

“Our brother was seeking help for his conditions but as BPD isn’t looked at as a ‘mental health illness’ under the current Mental Health Act, his treatment was always minimal and or/ dismissed. Our brother struggled to seek help because there is just not enough support for BPD sufferers, or patients with complex post traumatic disorder,” Jamie’s siblings said. 

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Jamie’s family said that he was admitted to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital following “significant and severe self-inflicted injuries” on many occasions. Each time, after emergency surgery, he was assessed and released within 24 hours. 

“The care he received, in our opinion, was in no way adequate or humane. Our brother received very little care, and support when he was clearly at a high risk of suicide. Not once was he ever admitted as a mental health patient,” said the siblings. 

The family said that on multiple occasions Jamie’s mother and sister “begged the staff to involuntarily admit our brother as a patient to be reassessed because we did not feel he was safe, and felt he was a risk to himself.”

Samantha told 9News that hospital staff told the family that they could not keep someone with BPD against their will. 

Family To Lobby For ‘The Jamie Act’

Jamie Wood (centre) with his family. Image: Facebook.

Following Jamie’s death, the family said that the hospital’s Acute Mental Health team had informed them that they were conducting an internal review to look at what went wrong in Jamie’s case. 

“The system failed our brother, and if something does not change now, we will have further suicides and broken families in the very near future. Our family would like to see a change in the current procedures and systems used in our hospitals as they are outdated, and clearly not working,” the petition said. 

The family said they would lobby for a change to the law and passing of “The Jamie Act”, whereby “if a family member is concerned their loved one is not receiving adequate mental health care at the time presenting to the hospital or emergency department, they will be reviewed by the most senior mental health psychiatrist on shift to be reassessed.”. 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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