When a severely depressed woman attended hospital as a voluntary patient but then discharged herself and subsequently committed suicide, did the hospital breach her human rights by permitting her to leave?

The Supreme Court has unanimously held that in circumstances where there is a ‘real and immediate’ risk of death, a hospital that allows a patient to leave is breaching their right to life, as guaranteed under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

This decision will come as a relief to families of mentally ill people who are prone to suicide. It affirms that a voluntary patient may be detained by a hospital when the purpose of the detention is to prevent them taking their own life.


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