Sister of MMA fighter says mental health professionals are ‘still failing people’


27 March 2022

The sister of a former MMA fighter who took his own life after struggling with bipolar disorder said that mental health professionals are “still failing more people”.

Rocky Stenning, 26, killed himself in his cell at Chelmsford Prison in 2018, nine days after beginning a nine-year jail term.

His sister Kristal Stenning, 41, has given evidence to the Essex Mental Health Independent Inquiry, which started to gather evidence in December last year from families of those who have died.

She described her brother as a “handsome, funny, caring, loyal” man who “loved his family and friends”.

“He would light up the room with his humour,” said Ms Stenning, of Tilbury in Essex.

“He would always put other people first.

“He was a loving son, brother, uncle, boyfriend and brother-in-law who was always there to protect us all.

“Anyone who was upset or own would always go to Rocky because they knew he could make them feel better.

“Even if he was feeling low himself, he would always make others feel on top of the world.”

She said that, aged 14, her brother “had to deal with the worst thing imaginable, losing our dad to suicide”.

Her brother had anxiety and depression, she said, and teaching himself how to cage fight helped with this.

She said that Mr Stenning had several mental health admissions in the last four years of his life.

Ms Stenning said her brother stood trial after a psychiatrist deemed that he was fit to, though she said he had “voiced ideas of suicide”.

She said he had attempted suicide in the past but was not placed on a care planning process for prisoners identified as being at risk of suicide or self-harm, called an ACCT (Assessment, Care in Custody and Teamwork).

“From the beginning of Rocky’s last stay in hospital to his time in prison before he died, every single person failed him,” she said.

“All it would have taken is one person to stand up and get Rocky the help he needed, and we wouldn’t be here today.

“Rocky is not a one-off case.

“This happened before him, and it’s happened after him.

“They have not learned anything from the inquest into my brother’s death.

“They still do not take mental health issues seriously.

“They are still failing more people.”

Ms Stenning said that what she wants from the public inquiry is “a better understanding of mental health in people”.

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