A SANDALWOOD Court patient died in his room after “a cry for help” went horribly wrong, an inquest has ruled.

A nurse went to check on Sonny O’Sullivan at 12:15pm on July 8 2017 after he failed to appear at lunchtime – she found him hanging.

Despite staff and paramedics' best efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

At the end of a two-day inquest held earlier this week, a jury concluded that his death, caused by the constriction of neck structures by a ligature, was an accident.

The 45-year-old from Kingsdown is survived by his widow Lisa O’Sullivan and two children.

His brother and father were to visit him on the afternoon of his death, he would have celebrated his birthday later that month and had arranged for a tribunal to appeal the March 2017 extension of his sectioning.

These future plans and the lack of a suicide note suggested that he didn't intend to die.

Sonny was committed to Sandalwood Court's Applewood Ward in December 2016 after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

In February 2017, two-and-a-half months into his stay at Sandalwood, he was transferred to the Windswept Ward, which prepares patients for reintegration into the community.

Mrs O’Sullivan didn’t think he was ready for this but staff said he'd shown signs of positive change and they didn't consider him to be a high-risk patient.

Applewood Ward healthcare assistant Stephen O’Neill said: “He was very guarded, suspicious, paranoid and aggressive at first but I saw improvements in his presentation, he was better at socialising with staff and other users.”

Nurse Lynne Lavender said: “In Windswept Ward, his mood was flat, he kept asking when he could go home and thought we were conspiring against him to keep him away from his family.

“He often said he'd rather be dead than in there but also said suicide wasn’t an option as he felt it was cowardly and he had his children to think about."

Mrs O’Sullivan discussed how his mental health had deteriorated since he lost his job as a telecommunications engineer at Vodafone in 2008.

She said: “Losing a job that he’d worked really hard to get took a lot of his pride and self-esteem away, he never regained that self-belief again.

“The job market was very tough and the more knockbacks he got, the further down he went.

“In 2014, he became someone we didn’t recognise, very agitated and angry - he used to be very friendly and fun-loving, he loved life.

“He looked after people on respite holidays and raised money for charity – he even applied for a job working at the ward where he would later be a patient.

“His reality became distorted, he was scared of the outside world, afraid of the neighbours, and didn’t like the children going outside to play. In his head, he wasn’t ill, he thought he was just protecting us.

“When you know somebody so well and know how drastically they’ve changed, it’s difficult to get somebody else to see that. I tried to get help for years but nobody would listen, it was a constant battle.”

Sonny attempted suicide in 2014 and 2016 with the same method that later killed him – his wife rescued him on both occasions.

She added: “He was crying out for help, he knew he needed it but he was such a proud man and he felt there was a stigma around mental health that would stop him gaining employment.”

The morning after his 2016 suicide attempt, he blocked the front door to stop his wife and children leaving the house and, out of desperation, Lisa called the police.

After being arrested and charged for the incident, which was classed as domestic violence, and serving nine weeks in prison, Sonny was finally seen my mental health professionals and sectioned.

Of his final act, Mrs O'Sullivan said: “Was he doing it in the hope somebody would find him, another cry for help?

“He had six hours of leave a day so why do it on the ward at lunchtime when he knew they;d come looking if he didn’t turn up?"

A pathologist from Great Western Hospital noted that Mr O'Sullivan would have lost consciousness less than 20 seconds after using the ligature and there was only a 10-minute window after that where he could have been resuscitated without any lasting brain damage being caused.

He was last seen alive by staff at 11.30am and by the time his body was found, it was too late to rescue him.