The family of a 22-year-old man who died while under the care of mental health services in Stockport have called for the system to change to improve care for other patients.

David Marsden was found dead on his mother’s sofa on 21 November 2019, the day after he had been granted home leave from an acute mental health inpatient ward.

His mother Fiona Marsden and his older sisters Katie and Charlene, have spoken of the ‘dehumanising’ treatment he received at the Norbury Ward of Stepping Hill Hospital and of a mental health care system that they feel failed him.

Fiona commented: “On the ward David was often known by his room number rather than his name, which was completely dehumanising for him. The staff on the ward lacked sensitivity and were sometimes quite rude and dismissive. Many seemed to be agency workers who did not come from a mental health background. I have been told that this is a normal standard on NHS mental wards and I can only imagine the experience is even worse for those who are even more vulnerable than David was. David hated it there and as a family we felt that there was no push to get to the root cause of his problem.

“Even before he was admitted to the ward he found that each time he saw a GP, a psychiatrist or attended A&E, he had to start from the very beginning again, which only added to his distress. This was an ongoing illness yet there was no continuity of care as there would have been if he had a physical injury.

“The system for the treatment of people suffering a mental health crisis is failing and you don’t realise how bad services are until it happens to someone you love. It’s too late for David but we want his story to be told to try to make a positive change.

“David was a kind-hearted, caring and beautiful person who was always there for others. He helped many through their struggles including friends and family. He always knew the right thing to say to lift people up. He didn't have a bad bone in his body and saw the goodness in everyone and everything. He did extremely well in school and his job and enjoyed going to the gym and spending time with family and friends. I don’t think anybody ever saw this coming. He was so good at helping others through their struggles you would never guess he would have ended up struggling himself. His family, friends, colleagues have all been left with a huge void that nothing or no one can ever fill.”

Kimberley Peet, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor at law firm JMW, is supported David’s and helped them to get answers from the hospital trust. She commented: “David is missed, not just by his family, but by everyone who knew him. Mental health services in this country continue to lag far behind their physical counterparts and change needs to be made. Until it does there is a continued risk of patients suffering avoidable harm.”

David had no history of mental health problems and appeared happy and content to his family. However in June 2019 he suffered a bout of insomnia that he couldn’t get under control and his mental health began to go downhill. David, who had a job as a medical lab assistant at Stepping Hill Hospital, deteriorated over the following weeks and was seen numerous times by his GP, A&E at Stepping Hill, as an outpatient with a psychiatrist and by the community mental health team. He was sectioned for 28 days under Section 2 of the Human Rights Act on 16 October 2019 and admitted to the Norbury Ward at Stepping Hill Hospital.

On the 23rd October David was granted seven days home leave and was visited at home by a community mental health team.

On 30 October David attended a review at Stepping Hill Hospital where his medication was changed and he was granted a further seven days home leave. That evening he told his mum that he would be attending a bonfire with friends but instead tried to take his own life by jumping into a reservoir. Following police intervention it was confirmed that David was expressing suicidal thoughts and he was taken back to the Norbury ward where he was re-admitted. On 12 November David’s section 2 detention formally ended and although the hospital wanted to put him under a further section David begged staff not to.  It was decided that he would remain on the ward as a voluntary patient but that he would require approval from two psychiatrists to be discharged. 

David was granted home leave on the weekend of the 16th-18th November 2019 under the supervision of his sister.

On the 19th November David was allowed to leave the ward to go to his house and collect a parcel before returning.

On the 20th November he was granted a further week of home leave to his mum’s house. He was collected by his mum that evening and taken home. They spent the evening together before Fiona went to bed.

The following morning David’s mother found him dead on the sofa.  Following an inquest into David's tragic death a coroner ruled that his cause of death was suicide. 




For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelly Hindle or Samantha Meakin on the details below:

Kelly Hindle

D. 0161 828 1868


Samantha Meakin

D: 0161 828 1981


Note to Editors

JMW Solicitors LLP is a leading Manchester law firm and offers a broad range of legal services to both commercial and private clients.

JMW’s Clinical Negligence team is headed up by leading clinical negligence lawyer, Eddie Jones.



Let us contact you

View our Privacy Policy

Areas of Interest