Anita Magill, whose late husband Rory killed himself while his nurse was on a break, spoke out ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from Monday (May 11) to Sunday (May 17).
She said: “Up until a couple of years ago I was probably quite ignorant of [mental health issues].
“You know some people are depressed or down, but you don’t know what they’re going through.
“It should be more out there.
“This has really hit it home for me.”
Father-of-four Mr Magill, 44, was admitted to A&E on June 13, 2013, having tried to kill himself by swallowing antifreeze.
He was assigned one-to-one observation, but his nurse went on a break without handing over responsibility for his care, leaving him unattended.
A short time later he was found hanging in the hospital’s Day Room.
Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital in Pield Heath Road, has accepted responsibility for a strong of failings that led to Mr Magill’s death.
Among these was the trust’s inadequate training for registered general nurses and health care assistants in relation to patients with suicidal thought or intent.
Mrs Magill, 43, of St Helen’s Close, Uxbridge, said: “I thought I’d left him in the safest place in the world and it wasn’t. They didn’t look after him.”
Mrs Magill said her husband, a self-employed electrician, worked six days a week, never missing a shift.
He had battled alcohol problems, but Mrs Magill said no one realised how bad his mental health had become, highlighting the need for better awareness.
She said: “Up until a few weeks before he died, you could speak to anyone about him and they’d say he was the life and soul.
“A lot of people called him the gentle giant, because he was a big guy and he was as soft as anything.”
She added: “No one really knew what was going on with him. I knew what he did with the antifreeze was serious, but I never thought in a million years he would do what he did.”
Mrs Magill is now suing the hospital, together with specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.
She said: “This is about getting the awareness out there with people who do have mental health issues and also the hospital learning lessons so it doesn’t happen again.
“It’s still devastating. My life has been totally ripped apart. We just go day to day. That’s all we can do. It’s been very hard and the kids have suffered tremendously. It’s torn us apart.”
Paying tribute to her late husband, she added: “He was an absolutely brilliant father. I couldn’t have asked for better in terms of love and providing for the kids.
“He was just an all round really good man and a good husband. I can’t fault him, regardless of his problems.”
If you are having suicidal thoughts, visit the Samaritans website, or call 08457 90 90 90.