Forest Hill artist who warned of 'humiliating' mental health drugs found hanged

Forest Hill artist who warned of 'humiliating' mental health drugs found hanged

Jean Cozens protesting against her antipsychotic drug regime

Jean Cozens protesting against her antipsychotic drug regime at a SOAP protest

Supporters of Jean Cozens outside her inquest at Southwark Coroners' Court, including WinVisible members and SOAP members

Friend Sian Whitehead protesting against Jean Cozens' treatment

Jean Cozens

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A Forest Hill artist with mental health issues died after being forced to take a “humiliating” drug regime which she likened to “slavery”, an inquest heard.

Former Blackheath librarian Jean Cozens was found hanged with a pink silk scarf around her neck at her home in Kemble Road on Christmas Day 2012, Southwark Coroners’ Court heard on May 6.

News Shopper: Forest Hill artist's death after mental health drug 'slavery'

The 54-year-old, who suffered from depression, had tirelessly campaigned against taking drugs which ‘violated her human rights’ including an antipsychotic injection in her bottom.

In a YouTube video, Ms Cozens, who had an MA from the Royal College of Art, claimed she was wrongly diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder - a combination of schizophrenia and mood disorder.

She said she was given drugs which robbed her of her creativity and took away her energy.

News Shopper: Forest Hill artist's death after mental health drug 'slavery'

The mother-of-one said: “They used to hold me down and drug me so many times I don’t even remember.

“It is really horrible, it is humiliating.

“You just have to drop your trousers and get injected. It is disgusting and I wish I didn’t have to do it.

“I feel like I am trapped in a position of slavery. I don’t have control over my own mind, my own health and wellbeing, I don’t have a choice about what to put in my body.”

She was a patient of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) for around 20 years and was put on a Community Treatment Order (CTO) in 2010, which required drugs and regular meetings with a care coordinator, after several admissions to hospital for mental health problems.

She was an active member of campaign group Speak Out against Psychiatry (SOAP) and fought her diagnosis and treatment.

She said: “I have never been psychotic.

“I can’t escape from the diagnosis, it has never made me feel better, it has only made me feel worse.”

News Shopper: Forest Hill artist's death after mental health drug 'slavery'

Jean’s consultant psychiatrist Dr Amanda Hukin told the court she had been “reluctant” to put her on a CTO and did so after many options had been tried including psychotherapy.

Dr Hukin said: “She had multiple admissions to hospital often triggered by stressful life events and poor compliance with medication.

“Jean did not want to be on the CTO and depot (injection). I was very reluctant to go down that route, knowing her views, but it [coming off medication] just wasn’t successful and actually that was equally unpleasant for her.”

She went on to say Ms Cozens had suffered several previous suicide attempts and showed psychotic signs such as delusional beliefs.

She added: “If she had refused medication, she would probably have deteriorated quite quickly and been sectioned.”

A post mortem examination found Ms Cozens had not been taking her medication for at least a few days before her death.

Ms Cozens’ daughter Francesca Puglianini raised concerns including why her mother had not been given more support over Christmas, when she often had relapses, as well as a recent change in her care coordinator and changes in medication.

Coroner Henrietta Hill gave an open verdict, as there was no suicide note and said it could have been a “cry for help”, with cause of death given as suspension.

Ms Hill added: “What has troubled me as a broader question is whether the fact that Jean did not agree with the diagnosis and took her life.

“It is possible the frustrations at the regime led to her frustration and depression. It is simply a possibility.”

Friends and supporters packed out the court room and slammed Ms Cozens’ mental health treatment.

News Shopper: Forest Hill artist's death after mental health drug 'slavery'

Her friend Sian Whitehead, who worked in mental health for 20 years, said: “She had a beautiful soul but felt trapped and oppressed by those claiming to help her.

“They are pathologising human emotions and drugging people up against their will.

“If someone doesn’t want to take medication and believes it is doing them harm, it will not do them good.

“She was lovely, she was very brave. Nobody would listen to her. I have worked with schizophrenics and never saw any symptoms in her.”

She went on to say the medication was physically addictive and stopping it quickly causes problems as people go through withdrawal.

Artist and friend Wendy Rose, who also suffered from mental health issues and found drugs limited her creativity, managed to wean herself off them. She said: “The worst thing was losing creativity - that was the most devastating thing.

“When you are just with people who tick boxes, TLC doesn’t come into it, you need to know someone cares.”

A SLaM internal investigation found Jean’s “strong opposition” to the CTO could have been a “deciding factor” in taking her own life, the court heard.

A SlaM spokeswoman said: “The trust offers its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Jean Cozens.

“Ms Cozens was thoroughly risk assessed and the care she was given was deemed the most appropriate and suitable for her condition.

“A full internal investigation was carried out following her death with a number of recommendations and an action plan put in place. All actions from the report have been followed. These findings have been shared with the family.”

Anyone affected by issues such as suicide can gain confidential advice and support by calling the Samaritans on 08457 909090 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org or visiting the website at samaritans.org/

Comments (6)

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11:52am Sat 10 May 14

supershopper says...

the 'services' originating from the administrative hub in Catford (you know the services im talking about) are overseen by people who are personally damaged from their own childhoods (all a persons problems stem from parents in their opinion) leaving them power hungry, with overblown egos, and personality flaws so big its an abomination. They themselves are like deranged psychotic cats playing with mice with no inkling of the damage they do in the name of 'helping'
the 'services' originating from the administrative hub in Catford (you know the services im talking about) are overseen by people who are personally damaged from their own childhoods (all a persons problems stem from parents in their opinion) leaving them power hungry, with overblown egos, and personality flaws so big its an abomination. They themselves are like deranged psychotic cats playing with mice with no inkling of the damage they do in the name of 'helping' supershopper
  • Score: 0

9:56pm Sat 10 May 14

Dr Martin says...

I am sure most mental health services do their utmost to help the people under their care, but with caseloads of of many CPN's around 50+ it is very difficult to give everyone the time they may need
I am sure most mental health services do their utmost to help the people under their care, but with caseloads of of many CPN's around 50+ it is very difficult to give everyone the time they may need Dr Martin
  • Score: 1

8:25am Sun 11 May 14

peaceman99 says...

Damned if they do and damned if they don't. A person who has made several suicide attempts leaves services no choice but to treat them. I'm all for free personal choice but if a person acts in ways that bring them to the attention of those society charges with caring for people who are vulnerable then they cannot be surprised when those services get involved.
Damned if they do and damned if they don't. A person who has made several suicide attempts leaves services no choice but to treat them. I'm all for free personal choice but if a person acts in ways that bring them to the attention of those society charges with caring for people who are vulnerable then they cannot be surprised when those services get involved. peaceman99
  • Score: 10

8:29pm Sun 11 May 14

supershopper says...

even under an order made to ensure this lady took her meds, she still comitted suicide. So if being under the order made her feel her life was not in her conrol wouldnt it have been better to section her as then they could have ensured she would take them? why put her on an order to take her meds and then not see it through?
even under an order made to ensure this lady took her meds, she still comitted suicide. So if being under the order made her feel her life was not in her conrol wouldnt it have been better to section her as then they could have ensured she would take them? why put her on an order to take her meds and then not see it through? supershopper
  • Score: -1

8:37pm Sun 11 May 14

supershopper says...

just smacks of throwing weight around and not really giving a toss about the end result. From someone who knows a social worker team manager who got caught out in a spiteful lie by no fewer than THREE barristers
just smacks of throwing weight around and not really giving a toss about the end result. From someone who knows a social worker team manager who got caught out in a spiteful lie by no fewer than THREE barristers supershopper
  • Score: 1

8:21am Tue 13 May 14

Dr Martin says...

supershopper wrote:
even under an order made to ensure this lady took her meds, she still comitted suicide. So if being under the order made her feel her life was not in her conrol wouldnt it have been better to section her as then they could have ensured she would take them? why put her on an order to take her meds and then not see it through?
I am afraid no matter how her mental health team managed this lady, the outcome would have been the same, unless you detained her in hospital indefinitely which just isn't done nowadays* (pressure of limited beds)
Jean was obviously determined not to take the medication that kept her well

*Unless under a home office section example 37/41
[quote][p][bold]supershopper[/bold] wrote: even under an order made to ensure this lady took her meds, she still comitted suicide. So if being under the order made her feel her life was not in her conrol wouldnt it have been better to section her as then they could have ensured she would take them? why put her on an order to take her meds and then not see it through?[/p][/quote]I am afraid no matter how her mental health team managed this lady, the outcome would have been the same, unless you detained her in hospital indefinitely which just isn't done nowadays* (pressure of limited beds) Jean was obviously determined not to take the medication that kept her well *Unless under a home office section example 37/41 Dr Martin
  • Score: 1

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