‘I stood there as people told my daughter to jump’

Specially trained negotiators are on the scene
Specially trained negotiators are on the scene

A shattered mum who watched on helplessly as onlookers told her daughter to “jump” as she threatened to leap from a multi-storey car park today said: “I have seen the worst of humanity.”

The mum was standing on Dickson Road last Friday as trained police negotiators tried to persuade her daughter to step away from the edge of Wilko’s car park.

Today, she told how passers-by shouted for her daughter to kill herself while scores more urged her to jump on social media sites.

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The Blackpool mum, whose identity The Gazette is not disclosing, today said: “I have seen the worst of humanity.

“One person called me a weirdo because I wouldn’t explain to her why my daughter was up there.”

Today, speaking to The Gazette on the condition of anonymity, she has opened up about the sickening calls she was forced to endure as a specially-trained police negotiator persuaded her daughter not to take that final step off the edge of Wilko, in Dickson Road, Blackpool, last Friday and Saturday.

She said: “I saw people sitting in the gutter for three hours watching with their children.

“One called me a weirdo because I wouldn’t explain to her why my daughter was up there.

“I have seen the worst of humanity.”

Speaking from her modest family home close to Marton on Friday, she also criticised the medics who allowed her daughter, in her 20s, out of hospital to climb back on top of the car park again the next day.

“I said I was really worried for her safety, and was not able to keep her safe at home,” she said. “But they disregarded everything I said and discharged her.”

Blackpool town centre ground to a halt after the woman climbed to the top of Wilko shortly after 10am on Friday.

Buses were diverted as police closed Dickson Road and Talbot Road, with a crowd quickly gathering to watch the drama unfold.

After being alerted to the situation by a friend, her mum raced to the scene – and promptly had a panic attack.

She was given a seat behind the police cordon by officers, out of sight of her daughter – who told a specialist negotiator she didn’t want to see her family – but not out of earshot of the callous crowd.

“As soon as people realised there was someone on the roof, they were gathering in groups,” she said.

“She was up there for five hours and throughout there were people shouting ‘jump’ at her. And she heard it.

“Even she said later, ‘What did they hope to see? Did they really want to see me splattered on the pavement?

“Because I was behind the cordon, and had been given a chair and coffee, people had realised I was her mum.

“Quite a lot approached me and asked why she was up there and what she was doing.

“One said, ‘Stupid cow – why doesn’t she just jump?’”

Her daughter, described as a quiet girl, has suffered from a personality disorder – which causes impulsive and unpredictable behaviour – since she was a schoolgirl. She was finally talked down at around 4pm.

She was detained under the Mental Health Act and taken by ambulance to The Orchard, a mental health facility in Lancaster.

Just hours later, after being assessed by two psychologists, she was deemed fit to leave, her mum said.

“They said she seemed fine now,” she added.

“Her intention had been to throw herself off the roof. The police negotiator said there was even a point where he genuinely thought she might jump.

“She has never done anything so extreme before. Hand on heart, I couldn’t say she was not going to jump. I just didn’t know.”

The pair went back home, with the daughter acknowledging how dangerous her actions had been that day.

But her nightmare hadn’t ended, as she realised when she logged on to Facebook and saw dozens of hurtful comments – and pictures clearly identifying her.

“She felt quite stupid about it all,” her mum said. “She was upset by it, and the comments she had seen since.

“Those messages could be the reason why she went back the next day, I don’t know.”

The next morning, after saying she was popping out for a cigarette, as was usual, she instead called a taxi and went back into the town centre, and climbed back on top of the car park – this time sitting with her legs dangling over Queen Street.

She had hidden her mum’s car keys during the night, and told friends she was ‘more determined than ever’ to jump.

“That scared me,” her well-spoken mum, who works with youngsters in the resort, said.

“This time there wasn’t as many people there, but the police pointed out three who they said seem to be at every single incident for some reason.

“But there were still people shouting abuse. One girl was taking pictures while in her work uniform. I have been in touch with the store and said that, when I asked her to delete them, she laughed in my face. They’re dealing with it.

“I have even heard comments from people who said they were there both days.

“I did start to have a go back. I’m a very patient person, but I was beginning to lose it.

“At one point I was dragged away and had to be reminded they are not worth it.

“It was very tough. The police threatened to arrest a few of them if they carried on, and they were saying they couldn’t believe how calm I had acted.”

The same police negotiator – since praised for his efforts – was again successful in talking the young woman down from the edge of the rooftop later that afternoon.

And this time, her mum said, officers decided to arrest her on suspicion of a public order offence, in the hope she would see a mental health worker while in the cells at Bonny Street Police Station.

Officers didn’t handcuff her, and sat with her in the back of the police car during the short drive across town.

“I was confident that, because this was the second time it had happened, she would get help, but I got a call at 7pm from a female PC saying she was ready to be collected,” she said.

“I asked if she was joking, but she said it was not the right place for her. The idea had been to take her there for help, but that failed as well.

“I just feel very let down by the mental health services, not just in the last week but the last few years.

“It’s very disjointed. She will work with one service, and then be put on a waiting list for another.

“She did a course recently and she came out with a lavender bag she can smell. What good is that?”

“She was with CAMHs (child and adolescent mental health services) until she was 16, and then she had to wait until she was 18 for adult services. There was nothing for her in between.”

The woman, who was due to go on holiday last week but had to cancel, losing £1,500 in the process, has now been in touch with the office of Blackpool South’s Labour MP, Gordon Marsden.

Last week, Mr Marsden questioned the support given to her daughter, and said: “It’s obviously very concerning that this lady, having been successfully brought down from the roof and presumably referred for mental health support, should appear on the roof again just 24 hours later.

“That does raise questions about what treatment or support she was given and, while respecting her confidentiality, we need to hear more on this from the authorities responsible.”

Lancashire Care NHS Trust, which is responsible for providing inpatient mental health services across the county, refused to say what help had been offered to the woman before the weekend’s events, or what involvement they had with her after she was talked down on Friday, citing ‘patient confidentiality’.

But a spokesman said: “The trust is experiencing an increased demand for inpatient mental health services and this reflects a national shortage of beds. Our number one priority has been to ensure our patients receive the highest quality care when they need it.”