Content warning: This story deals with issues around mental health and suicide and may be triggering for some readers.
On the 9th of April this year, Tony Jenkins, a father-of-two from Newcastle and paramedic of 28 years, was taken into a meeting with two NSW Ambulance managers.
In that meeting, his family now claim, Jenkins was asked about his use of the opioid fentanyl. The 54-year-old allegedly confessed that the trauma of his job had become all-consuming, and he had been self-medicating with drugs he’d taken from work.
The family claim he was then dropped at his car – and, after being explicit about his battle with his mental health and his need for help – was allowed to drive home.
“They didn’t take minutes in that meeting, they didn’t give him a support person,” his 27-year-old daughter Kim tells Mamamia.
“They let him drive home, after he admitted to taking drugs, and after admitting to having mental health problems.”
Only Tony Jenkins didn’t drive himself home. Instead, he took himself to Booragul near Lake Macquarie and suicided. He left behind his wife Sharon, 52, and two daughters Kim, 27 and Cidney, 24.
According to NSW Ambulance guidelines, it’s mandatory for official minutes to be recorded in such meetings. NSW Ambulance would not comment on the meeting specifically but told Mamamia they will continue to support the Jenkins family and their workforce.
“NSW Ambulance extends its condolences to the family of Mr Jenkins and will continue to do everything we can to support the Jenkins family and our workforce during this difficult time,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“Our priority is the safety of our employees and the NSW Government is investing $48 million to improve health and wellbeing, including mental health of NSW Ambulance staff.
“As investigations are now underway it is not appropriate for us to comment on individual circumstances.”