Singer Mina Topley-Bird found dead after mental health episode, inquest told

Singer experienced psychotic episode in May 2019 after she thought concert had gone badly

A young and talented singer was found dead in hospital after suffering a severe mental health episode following a concert, which she thought had gone badly, an inquest heard.

Mina Topley-Bird, 24, the daughter of the trip hop musician Tricky and vocalist Martina Topley-Bird, was discovered dead at West Park hospital, Darlington, in May 2019, days after performing with her band in Newcastle upon Tyne.

An inquest in Durham heard she thought the gig with her band, 404, had not gone well and believed people had laughed.

She was travelling back to her London home when she experienced a psychotic episode, and she got off the train at Darlington.

Her friend and bandmate, Brendan Murphy, got off with her and tried to help, managing to get her to hospital after she tried to walk in front of fast-moving cars, the inquest was told.

He got her into a taxi and took her to the accident and emergency unit of Darlington Memorial hospital.

After being assessed, she was transferred to a secure ward at nearby West Park hospital, where she received treatment voluntarily, and was not detained under the Mental Health Act, jurors were told.

The coroner, James Thompson, described her as “well-travelled and clearly a talented young woman”.

“She was a musician and a member of a band. She had sadly suffered from mental illness for some years," hy het gesê.

She had received treatment in south-west England and in London before she came under the care of medics in Darlington during the last days of her life.

DS John Tyers said in a statement Topley-Bird thought the Newcastle gig had gone badly. The officer, who investigated her death and found there was no third-party involvement, said she had a history of of self-harm due to mental health issues.

Hospital staff found the singer in her room at about 4pm on 8 Mei 2019, and tried in vain to save her, the officer said.

Murphy said he realised she was not well after the Newcastle performance, and her eyes were glazed. He had tried to look after her, he said in a statement.

He said she was agitated on the train journey back to London, and she told him she had tried to open the door of the moving train.

When he got off the train with her at Darlington, Murphy called her grandmother, who advised him to get her to the nearest hospital. She had not been drinking or taking drugs, and was proud to have been clear of them for at least a year as she was aware of their effect on her mental health, hy het bygevoeg.

Dr Sonia Burrows, a clinical psychologist who helped Topley-Bird with her psychosis, told the hearing that when she was delusional she believed she deserved to die for the bad things she had done.

The inquest, expected to last four days, will examine how Topley-Bird came to be assessed in Darlington, her admission to West Park hospital, and how information was shared with the South London and Maudsley NHS trust, as well as what measures were taken to transfer her back to London.

The inquest continues.

In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org of jo@samaritans.ie. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

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