The partner of a campaigning BBC journalist paid tribute to her today after an inquest heard she was found dead a day after unsuccessfully trying to contact her therapist.
Polly de Blank, 35, who had bipolar disorder, was told her doctor was on leave when she tried to get help during a “crisis” on July 23 last year. The next day, Anthony Faroux, her partner of 10 years, found her dead after she took a large dose of sleeping tablets.
Ms de Blank, the daughter of late restaurateur and entrepreneur Justin de Blank, had attended group therapy sessions as an outpatient at South London Maudsley Trust, where she also sat on the board.
After completing the sessions, she was not registered with a dedicated psychotherapist and when she called in for help there was no one available to whom she could be referred.
At yesterday’s inquest, Mr Faroux said access to the NHS had been “very difficult when [Polly] was in crisis”.
Mr Faroux, who lived with Ms de Blank in Brixton, told the Standard: “She was amazing, she was beautiful. We all loved her and miss her. We would like to concentrate on the future and work in her memory. After seeing the difficulty Polly had finding help, there is a lot to be done for others.”
Ms de Blank made documentaries for the BBC World Service for 10 years, often focusing on slavery.
Dr Teifion Davies, a Trust psychiatrist, said of Ms de Blank’s distress call: “Perhaps it would be helpful if when such calls come in, to call other people such as the community team. It might be appropriate that if someone is in distress there is someone else available.
“She was an extremely intelligent woman. She knew a tremendous amount about the condition. She expressed ideas of her life not being worth living and occasionally told of ending it, but was sometimes pessimistic rather than suicidal.”
Returning a verdict of asphyxiation, coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe said she was not satisfied Ms de Blank intended to kill herself because she was exhausted and her mind could have been clouded by the sleeping tablets.
This summer, Mr Faroux will join Ms de Blank’s mother Melanie, and her two sisters Clementine, 30, and Martha, 33, on a horseback trip across Mongolia to raise money for mental health charity Mind and human rights charity Prisoners of Conscience, for whom Ms de Blank volunteered.
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/remember/80467/Polly-deBlank