Failings found in a mental health crisis team found after the deaths of four people may have contributed to a 57-year-old man's death months later, his family's lawyers have said.

David Stevens was a patient of Durham and Darlington Crisis Team (DDCT) when he took his own life at his home Willington, on June 15, 2022.  

Ahead of an inquest into his death, David’s family have said he was failed by the DDCT, claiming that healthcare workers did not accurately assess the risk that he posed to himself – despite his 37 pleas for help from the team in the months preceding his death.

He is one of 41 people revealed to have died within six months of receiving care from Durham and Darlington Crisis Team (DDCT) since February 2021.

These 41 deaths did not occur naturally – meaning patients died from unexpected physical health issues, drug and alcohol-related deaths, and unknown causes, as well as completing suicide.  

Read our report into these deaths here. 

Lawyers representing the Stevens family have said that the mental health trust overseeing the team, Tees, Esk and Wear Valley Trust (TEWV), had been aware of issues since 2021 after they commissioned a review following four DDCT patient deaths within a five-week period.

This report noted troubling themes in the care provided to some patients, including issues with referral, triage, and escalation processes; problems with staffing levels and team culture; and a failure by staff to adhere to clinical policy/procedures.

David had a history of persistent depressive disorder and paranoid personality disorder, which had been kept under control from 2014 to 2021 – but in the spring of 2022, David experienced an “escalation in his anxiety” that left him struggling to cope.

As well as requests for help from DDCT, David had been in touch with his GP, NHS 111, A&E, the Samaritans and the police.

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A Care Review Report into David’s death was completed by TEWV on December 8, 2022. The Report identified that the Crisis Team was operating under business continuity contingency measures due to low staffing, resulting in inexperienced staff and inadequate training for staff supporting patients who called the Crisis Team.

The report also noted that there had been poor assessments of David’s needs, failures to review his medication, as well as a lack of recognition that his failure to take medication as prescribed; frequent contacts with services; escalating anxiety and poor sleep were indicative of his declining mental wellbeing.

The family’s legal representation noted that: “Many of the issues with the Crisis Team that were raised in relation to David’s death had been recognised and linked to previous deaths in TEWV’s 2021 review.”

A spokesperson for TEWV said: “It is incredibly sad when a person that has been in contact with any of our services dies and our hearts go out to families who have lost loved ones.

Read more: Family claim West Park hospital, Darlington, was 'compassionless'

“We would always carry out a review of our care so that we can understand if there are areas where we can improve.

“We are committed to providing safe, high-quality services for people across the communities that we support.

“As you would expect we are unable to comment on the details of individuals in our care.”

An inquest into David’s death is set to be conducted at Crook Coroner’s Court on October 16, later this year.

  • Samaritans are available, day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch.
  • If U Care Share on 0191 387 5661 or text IUCS to 85258.
  • SANE on 07984 967 708, Calm on 0800 58 58 58.
  • Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust crisis line 0800 0516 171.