Interim report demands more crisis training, education and treatment, following suicide of Fredericton teen
FREDERICTON -- The child and youth advocate office in New Brunswick has released an interim report that looks into youth mental health services in the province following the suicide of Fredericton teen Lexi Daken.
The 16-year-old tried to see a psychiatrist at the Everett Chalmers emergency room in Fredericton on Feb. 18, according to her family.
She never saw one, despite waiting for over eight hours. Daken died by suicide six days later.
Her story has sparked calls for the New Brunswick government to transform the mental health care system, specifically the youth system.
The province’s health minister, Dorothy Shephard, asked the advocate to take on a review of mental health services in the province, and a midway report was released Thursday.
The report includes 10 recommendations, some of which include:
- immediately implement ongoing training and professional development programs to ensure that all emergency room staff are equipped to provide competent and compassionate care to youth who present with suicidal ideation or following suicide attempts
- a provincial fund and strategy to support mental health awareness and education activities through schools and communities,
- an independent review by N.B. First Nations experts of Youth Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Services for Indigenous Children and Youth both on and off reserve
- improve interim psychological and psychiatric treatment options in regionalized hospital care settings and in the Pierre Caissie Centre and Restigouche Hospital Centre (RHC) Youth unit
Daken’s father, Chris, is taking time to read the report, but hopes the province considers the recommendations, no matter the cost.
“There are things that are more important than money,” he said Thursday. “We still have a lot of unanswered questions … how can you put a value on someone’ life when they go in to get help?”
He says he’s hoping the complete report – which is supposed to be released at the end of July – will provide more of the roadmap needed to improve the system, not just for youth, but for everyone.
The advocate’s office spoke to experts in the field, but also youth who tried to get help from the healthcare and hospital system.
“One of the main challenges that we have heard from Lexi’s own family, but also from several other youth, parents and health professionals who have come forward in our review already is the need to intervene appropriately with suicidal youth,” the report reads.
It says some youth were “refused access to their loved ones for hours without end,” and felt like a “burden” when they were admitted to the hospital for suicidal ideation.
“One such young person was adamant that she would never seek hospital-based care again in a similar situation of crisis.”
Daken’s family chose to speak out about Lexi’s death, saying they want to help prevent it from happening again.