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Brontë Haskins’ mental health and drug battle before suicide reveals flaws in system

Brontë ‘Poppy’ Haskins rescued lost animals and vulnerable people but when she needed help after a violent assault sent her spiralling down a path of crime and drugs to her eventual death there was no one there to save her.

The 23-year-old was found dead in her ex-partner’s home on February 18, 2018, after a horror week in which she binged on drugs and even thought a Nazi gas chamber was buried underneath her home.

Her death was ruled a suicide which her mum Janine Haskins and stepdad Peter McLaren said was preventable.

The talented footballer from Canberra was released on bail from the Alexander Maconochie Centre a week before her tragic death.

Her parents said it was the first of four opportunities authorities had to intervene and possibly prevent her from taking her own life.

They said a lack of communication and poor attitude between authorities was what prevented Brontë from being admitted to hospital for her mental health. 

While she had struggled with it since childhood, it took a turn for the worse when Brontë was assaulted by a client at work and placed on leave. 

The former youth worker was then violently assaulted by the man she was dating, which activated her course of drug abuse and criminal offending. 

Ms Haskins said she noticed after Brontë’s release she was not doing too well. 

Brontë had experienced a psychotic episode, where she believed a Nazi gas chamber was underneath the floorboards of the house.

Ms Haskins said it was clear Brontë had used methamphetamine and felt dismissed by police when she called for help at 1am, only to have officers arrive two hours later. 

Authorities can make an emergency apprehension where there are reasonable grounds under the Mental Health, Justice Health and Alcohol and Drug Services (MHJHADS) act in the ACT. 

This is to ensure a person, who is suffering from a mental health disorder or illness, does not harm themselves or anybody else. 

‘I’m her mum, listen to me. It’s not like I came home on Friday night and thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got nothing to do, I think I’ll ring the police and waste their time and get my daughter locked up,’ Ms Haskins told police, ABC reported. 

Brontë was known to police and mental health services prior to the episode by having been in contact with them several times over a 12 month period.

These times included a suicide attempt and being admitted to a mental health facility, which ended after Brontë waited 12 hours at the emergency department for a bed.

The second opportunity authorities missed at helping Brontë was on February 16, Ms Haskins said.

She was drug-affected, had just left the house with a friend and was behaving erratically.

Mr McLaren was prepared to give a statement to police as she was in breach of bail conditions but police never followed through due to not having seen her actions.

Two other opportunities missed included February 17 and 18 – on the morning of Brontë’s death.

On February 17, she was found unconscious in her bedroom just weeks after paramedics resuscitated her from a suicide attempt.

Officers visited the family to check on Brontë from the night before on February 18, and reported she appeared ‘healthy and lucid’. 

However, journal entries proved otherwise.

Ms Haskins, who worked as a parole officer, a court liaison officer and as a welfare officer at the Belconnen Remand Centre, said Brontë was heard screaming and crying the moment police left.

She became angry and left with a friend before being dropped off at a hair salon and visiting the home of her ex-partner, where she was ultimately found unconscious about 2pm.

Her death was ruled a suicide by police. 

Ms Haskins and Mr McLaren are now challenging authorities and wanting an open review of the days leading up to Brontë’s death. 

They want to see what could have been done differently so it does not happen to another family.

‘This is an opportunity for them to improve the way they do things,” Mr McLaren told ABC.

Ms Haskins called for any pro bono work to help her ‘appeal the Supreme Court in relation to a Coroner’s decision not to pursue a hearing regarding the death of Brontë’. 

‘There are many anomalies, as well as a lot of un-answered questions. Through an incompleted investigation, it seems that Brontes medical records (and others) were not even obtained. The investigation was not thoroughly investigated at all,’ she wrote on Facebook.

‘I know this, because I have read the ‘report’, which is incomplete, and appears to be allowing all systems to be ‘blamess’ for Bronte’s death. 

‘Please please share, so we can assist in Brontës (and her family and friends) journey for justice in such a f***** up system, where services do not collaborate and just fob off to each other.’  

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