A MILITARY psychiatric unit was criticised yesterday over the death of an Army sergeant.

Sergeant James McDonald hanged himself at the Duchess of Kent Military Hospital, in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, last April - two weeks after he was admitted for a suicide attempt.

Sgt McDonald tied a rope to suction handles - used to help him get out of the bath.

Doctors said he showed no signs he might take his life, despite the fact he discovered only hours before his death that his wife was leaving him.

Sgt McDonald's family claim he warned them he might try to harm himself.

North Yorkshire West deputy coroner Geoff Fell told the hearing at Richmond Town Hall: "What worries me is that it is generally accepted that people in the care of a psychiatric unit are usually vulnerable, and it is recognised the most common method they use to harm themselves is by hanging.

"In Sgt McDonald's case, he found it easy to find a ligature and was even given the suction handles he tied the rope to by hospital staff."

Ward manager Captain Matthew Keiran said Sgt McDonald was given the suction handles to help with his mobility, which was hindered by arthritis, particularly in the bathroom.

Sgt McDonald had told nurses he regretted his first suicide attempt and had gone to some lengths to hide his intentions from staff.

The hospital said Sgt McDonald's death had prompted a review of procedures.

Staff now patrol the corridors, doors have been fitted with alarms, and staff have been given more training in how to identify suicide risks.