An inquest has opened into the death of a 26-year-old Brighton woman who was found hanged at a hospital in Hove.
Bethany Tenquist, widely known as Beth, was found in her room on Caburn Ward at Mill View Hospital, in Hangleton, four days after Christmas last year.
Staff from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust tried to revive her and called an ambulance.
She was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, where scans found serious injuries to her brain.
About a week into the new year she was moved from intensive care to palliative care and on Wednesday 16 January she died.
Family members paid emotional tributes to Miss Tenquist who suffered from bulimia, emotionally unstable personality disorder, panic attacks and substance abuse and who had a history of self-harm.
A jury heard from two of her sisters, Alice and Luella, who said: “We respectfully ask you … to see our sister not as a patient but as a person.”
They said: “There are so many ways to describe our sister Beth it’s hard to know where to start – daughter, sister, friend, trainee nurse, painter, animal lover, chef and gardener. Her passions and her friendships were so far reaching that the list could go on.
“Beth had so many hobbies and was annoyingly good at most things she put her mind to.
“After finishing her A levels, she began an art foundation course, where she developed her love of painting and drawing.
“This flare for arts and craft never left her and our home is still filled with the things she painted, made and planted for others to enjoy.
“Beginning a nursing course in our home city of Brighton, Beth had a natural disposition for caring for others.
“It’s safe to say that the amount of hardship Beth went through made her highly attuned and empathetic to other people’s pain and Beth was told by so many of her teachers how much of a difference she made to those she helped.
“Fiercely loyal, Beth stood up for whatever or whoever she believed was right and was happy to put herself in the way of an obstacle if she felt someone needed her help.
“Like all siblings, we fought bitterly but protected each other fiercely. Beth was particularly protective over her younger siblings as, having gone through bullying herself, she made sure they would never have to go through the same.
“From a young age Beth showed a natural talent and love for music and the arts, playing the viola and regularly joining art groups.
“Her love of music was so unique and important to her, she would use music to escape from the pain she went through when battling her mental health.
“From Johnny Cash to the soundtrack of Les Miserables, you would be surprised to see Beth without a pair of headphones around her neck.
“She would persuade our mum to go and see a West End show whenever she possibly could, until she knew every word to Hamilton, Wicked and Les Miserables.
“This love of music obviously extended to dancing, often late into the night, and at parties she was the first to get up and dance, to strike up the conversation, to put people at ease.
“Beth’s joyful and bubbly personality was very self-evident.
“In the last year of her life Beth could be seen with her dog, Dobby, an Italian greyhound.
“Together they were two playful and lively souls and Beth loved him more than anything in the world. She taught him to sit and be as cheeky as she.
“Much of what we will hear over the coming weeks will be about Beth’s time at Mill View Hospital so, with that in mind, we respectfully ask you … to see our sister not as a patient but as a person.
“Despite the years before her passing being plagued with suffering, Beth never lost her true self and remained loving and kind hearted until the very end.
“She was a person who had to fight tooth and nail just to get through the day and despite it all she never once forgot about other people.
“We feel proud when we say her soul lives on through the stories she gave us and the lives she touched.
“For it can truly be said that if Beth had been afforded but a second of time for every kind thing she did or kind word someone had to say about her then she truly would have lived forever.”
Her father Alasdair Tenquist said that there had been a culture of bullying in Caburn Ward at Mill View, reminiscent of her time at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove.
This affected his daughter badly as she was sensitive and beautiful, willing to please and eager to fit in.
Mr Tenquist said: “She told me that regular and persistent bullying was allowed to go on and without any steps being taken to stop it.”
One former patient referred to as Melissa scaled an 8ft wall to enter Mill View where she harassed Miss Tenquist and had to removed by police.
A fellow patient referred to as Becky regularly slammed Miss Tenquist’s head against a wall. He said: “I saw the bruises.
“Although this was reported to the ward staff, the bullying continued unabated.”
Mr Tenquist said: “Her mother, sisters and I made repeated requests to staff but these were ignored. I felt the situation was being minimised.
“There was also a real issue with contraband on the ward. A good deal of contraband was flowing around the ward … alcohol, tobacco drugs, sharps.
“Bethany told me there was an issue with medication swapping.”
He praised some staff but criticised others, saying: “Many of them were good caring people but there were a minority who should not be in a caring profession.
“Beth to all intents and purposes was left to care for herself.”
Patients had access to razors for cosmetic reasons but staff often failed to take them back, he said, and obvious ligature risks were not removed.
Mr Tenquist said that her time in the ward was “tormented” and described it as “this abuse of a vulnerable adult”.
She was, he said, “a beautiful gentle soul”, adding: “The last few months of Beth’s life were a daily torture. This chance was snuffed out by the failure of Mill View to give Beth the safety she craved.”
She had been “sectioned” under the Mental Health Act in September last year and remained in Mill View until she hanged herself four days after Christmas.
She had more than 30 accident and emergency (A&E) attendances last year, three requiring security staff and four resulting in admission to hospital.
The jury heard from Tom Lawson, the lead practitioner caring for Miss Tenquist, who had tried to find a scarce place for longer-term care for her and had even secured funding.
He said that Miss Tenquist’s care had been reviewed regularly and that risks were assessed but acknowledged shortcomings.
The inquest, which is taking place at the County Ground, in Hove, continues.