Family of N.B. teen celebrates her life while many call for meaningful action on mental health care
FREDERICTON -- The family of the New Brunswick teen who died by suicide last week after trying to get help from a hospital emergency room celebrated her life on Monday.
Lexi Daken's story has sparked outrage across the country and a call for an inquiry into why she didn't get the help she needed.
"I'll think of you in sunlight on the bright and shiny days when the light shines down and hits our skin and melts away some of the pain," said Cassidy Stafford, a speaker at an emotional and powerful celebration of life for the 16-year-old Daken. Family and friends of all ages vowed to ensure her legacy lives on through their actions.
"I do not believe that Lexi really wanted to die, she wanted help to escape her suffering," said Shelley Hanson."That help did not come in time for Lexi, but I want to work, and for us to unite together to ensure that others who need better access to quality health care for mental suffering will get the help they need before it's too late. Let's make that Lexi's legacy."
Daken died by suicide last Wednesday – less than a week after trying to get help from the Chalmers Hospital emergency room. Despite waiting for over eight hours, she never saw a psychiatrist, according to her family.
They shared her story and it's sparked outrage in New Brunswick and across the country:
"I went to hop on the government of New Brunswick website because I wanted to see what they're saying right?" said mental health advocate Kyle Moore."So there's a little piece here, it says need help, couple help lines or go directly to the emergency department at your nearest hospital. Guess what Lexi did? That. Guess what Lexi didn't get? The help that she was promised."
Green Party Leader David Coon is now calling for an inquiry into what happened the day Lexi sought help at the ER.
"She was psychologically bleeding out," Coon said. "She should have been put in a safe place immediately -- not sat at the ER for eight hours -- and treated. But our ERs clearly are not set up to do this. Can they be set up to do this? That's what an inquiry I guess could look at."
He says the province's plan to open mental health walk-in clinics should be expanded from daily to 24-hour care.
"It's time to spend some money," Coonsaid. "That's the bottom line."
Stafford summed up the feelings of everyone at Daken's celebration of life.
"That a child could be such a light, but hurting so much inside," Stafford said. "I will think of you in sunlight and know you wouldn't want us to cry."
Help is available for anyone who may be experiencing mental distress or suicidal thoughts.
In Nova Scotia, you can call the mobile crisis team at 1-888-429-8167.
In New Brunswick the Chimo helpline is a great resource and can be reached at 1-800-667-5005.
In Prince Edward Island, the number to call is 1-800-218-2885.
You can also reach-out to Kid's Help Line over the phone or on-line and teenmentalhealth.org is also available to offer support.