Family of sex addicted mining engineer, 35, who jumped to his death from cliff in Cornwall while battling depression accuse NHS of not taking his condition as seriously as the US

  • Father-of-two Dylan McFarlane took his own life in Cornwall in October last year
  • The 35-year-old’s ex-wife hit out at the treatment he received for sex addiction 
  •  Anyone seeking help can call Samaritans free on 116 123 or visit Samaritans.org

An engineer who took his own life while battling a sex addiction was not given the support he needed from the NHS, his family told an inquest today. 

The body of father-of-two Dylan McFarlane was found on the beach at Lushington, near St Agnes in Cornwall, last October.  

An inquest into his death heard the 35-year-old engineer had struggled with his mental health and battled depression but had struggled to get help amid the Covid pandemic.  

Family members told the hearing that Mr McFarlane was not given proper support and treatment in Cornwall for sex addiction, which worsened his suicidal thoughts. 

They claim he would have received better treatment had he been living in America, where sex addiction is, ‘taken more seriously.’ 

The 35-year-old engineer had struggled with his mental health and battled depression but had struggled to get help amid the Covid pandemic

The body of father-of-two Dylan McFarlane was found on the beach at Lushington, near St Agnes in Cornwall, last Octobe

The 35-year-old was born in Alaska before going on to study at the University of St Andrews, and the University of Exeter, where he obtained a master’s in mining engineering. 

Speaking on video link from the US Mr McFarlane’s ex-wife Deborah, a university lecturer, said sex addiction was ‘not a widely recognised’ problem in the UK. 

Criticising the care Mr McFarlane received in Cornwall, she added: ‘To me, it’s incredible that someone who has been identified as a high risk of suicide was asked to call back next week.

‘The first therapist he saw told him at their first meeting that he would not discuss sex with him and discharged him and gave him no alternative.

‘The second therapist told him that no such thing existed. I have no confidence that Relate is a competent place to send people with these problems.’

Mr McFarlane’s sister Cayanne, also speaking on video link from Virginia, said there was a ‘different cultural attitude’ towards sex addiction in the UK.

‘He did not feel like he got the services he needed,’ she said.

‘He did not necessarily take responsibility and share the full picture, but he did feel that he wasn’t taken seriously by some of the medical professionals in regards to the things he brought up in terms of sex addiction. He found it very difficult to get help.’   

The inquest heard Mr McFarlane was prescribed anti-depressants and had reported having suicidal thoughts in the weeks leading up to his death.   

Outlook South West, which offers mental health support in Cornwall, had deemed him a high risk of suicidal intent, so a discussion and management plan was agreed with him.

On October 7 Outlook South West was notified he had not attended an appointment and a text was sent to him to speak to one of the team. The next notification the service received was that Mr McFarlane had died on October 21.

Dr Yonette Hassell, clinical service and strategy lead for Outlook South West said Covid had been ‘challenging’ because it meant face to face appointments were unable to take place. 

The St Agnes lifeboat attended after Dylan McFarlane’s body was found on Lushington beach

Coroner Andrew Cox has written to the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and given it 56 days to come up with a strategy on how it treats patients with a sex addiction. 

Recording a conclusion of suicide, the coroner said: ‘I think there is a gap in the provision of the service that properly needs to be considered with a plan put in place as to how patients presenting in this way in the future are going to be treated.

‘If it is going to remain the case that a referral to Relate is going to be the option then there needs to be an understanding of what it is that Relate is going to offer, and if they’re going to offer a service which says ‘we’re not going to talk about sex here’ that is not going to work. 

‘There is some work to be done to put a cohesive plan together.’  I’m hoping that lessons are learned and the situation is improved for patients in the future.’ 

  • Anyone seeking help can call Samaritans free on 116 123 or visit Samaritans.org   

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