N.L. inmate who died by suicide needed mental health care not jail: family
Greg Pike died by suicide, unsupervised in a St. John's jail, and he was incarcerated instead of given desperately needed help with his addictions and mental health issues, according to his younger sister.
In an interview Tuesday, Courtney Pike said she was speaking out about what happened to her brother because she wanted people to know the truth about Newfoundland and Labrador's correctional system and how it failed him.
"I can't bring my brother back," she said, her voice breaking. "I just want some justice, I just want something done. I don't want anyone else to die."
The provincial Justice Department said Tuesday in an email that a male inmate at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's was found unresponsive in his cell on Sept. 16. He was taken to hospital, where he died three days later, according to department spokeswoman Danielle Barron, who did not provide details about the cause or circumstances of his death.
"A thorough review will examine all the circumstances surrounding the death, including staff response and the appropriateness of related policies and procedures," Barron wrote.
Pike's death is at least the sixth death of an inmate in the province to be reviewed or investigated since 2017. Skye Martin and Samantha Piercey died at a women's correctional facility in Clarenville, N.L., in 2018. Three other men at Her Majesty's Penitentiary -- Doug Neary, Chris Sutton and Jonathan Henoche -- have died since 2017.
Henoche's death was ruled a homicide and led to charges against 10 correctional officers last year.
An independent review of the province's correctional system, published in 2019 by retired police superintendent Marlene Jesso, found that an overwhelming majority of inmates needed mental health and addictions care -- services the report said weren't adequately provided through incarceration.
That was certainly Greg Pike's experience, his sister said.
Courtney Pike said she could barely contain her emotions when she read the Justice Department's statement reported in the media Tuesday. "It was like they were sweeping it under the rug, because they know this is an ongoing issue in the system," she said. "There is not enough help for mental health and addictions."
The 1850s-era jail in St. John's is known for its crumbling infrastructure and persistent rodent problems. The province has committed to building a new facility, and the Justice Department has said construction will begin next year.
Barron said Tuesday that the government could not comment on Courtney Pike's description of her brother's treatment at the jail or on his death, citing the ongoing review. Referring to Jesso's report, Barron added: "We have and will continue to review policies and procedures in Adult Corrections to ensure we meet best practices from across the country. Ensuring we have a safe and healthy living and work environment in our correctional facilities is a top priority."
Pike said her family wasn't told Greg was in the hospital until the morning after he was brought there. She is a nurse, and she said for the next few days until his death, she barely left his side, poring over his charts and scans.
"It was the worst thing I ever went through in my life," she said. "He did everything he could, he would not leave us, because he loved his little sisters, he loved his mom. I don't know how I'm going to get my mom through this."
Greg Pike would often call his family, sometimes in tears, saying he needed help -- sometimes even basic medical care -- and he wasn't getting it, his sister said. She said he had told the family that if fellow inmates were struggling, especially with suicidal thoughts, they would be placed into segregation units and left on their own.
He had a history of suicide attempts and he struggled with addictions and mental health for about a decade, Courtney Pike said, adding that he was incarcerated this time for breach of conditions. "How did this happen, he was supposed to be watched," she said. "How come my brother wasn't monitored closely, given his mental state?"
Cassidy Dove, Greg Pike's girlfriend, agrees that the system failed him. "Gregory didn't need jail, Gregory needed a (mental health) facility," she said in an interview Tuesday.
Dove said something needs to be done in the province about the way inmates with mental health needs are treated before someone else dies. "He asked for help and nobody gave it to him," she said. "I feel lost…I lost my best friend."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2021.
The Canadian Press erroneously reported in a Sept. 21 story that Greg Pike's sister said he was alone in his cell when he took his life. In fact, he had a cellmate.
Atlantic Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Growing number of Canadian hospitals to require visitors to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry
A growing number of Canadian hospitals are enacting policies requiring visitors and care partners to show proof of vaccination in order to gain entry, sparking yet another pandemic-era debate for ethicists.
A Canadian was among 17 missionaries allegedly kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday, Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement on its website.
The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy are set to expire on Oct. 23.
Although booster shots and third doses of COVID-19 vaccines aren't currently recommended for most Canadians, additional doses are being made available to certain populations or those who need to travel for work based on their province or territory of residence.
A rescue mission got underway Sunday for a firefighter who fell into the St. Lawrence River after a boat carrying people from a previous rescue mission capsized near the Lachine Rapids.
Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon departs for first international trip, including honour at world's largest trade book fair
Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon set out on her first international trip in that position on Sunday, heading to Germany to meet with officials, as well as attend the world’s largest trade book fair.
Hayley Wickenheiser is a six-time Olympian and award-winning women's hockey player, and now her accomplishments include graduating from medical school and achieving an M.D. during a global pandemic.
A day at the beach turned into a proposal for Kourtney Kardashian, who is now engaged to Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
Having trouble sleeping was commonplace for people with mental illness, according to one of the largest studies of its kind conducted by researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
The Ontario Liberals say they will launch a pilot project to “analyze the potential for a four-day work-week” if elected in June 2022.
An Indigenous author and University of Toronto assistant professor is being featured in a pandemic-era edition of 'Dial-a-Poem,' a project that encourages individuals to call in weekly and listen to writers perform some of their work.
By day, he's a university student and the goalie for the University of Toronto's men's hockey team. By night, or at least for one night, he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Outgoing mayor Naheed Nenshi takes one more shot at the premier before election day, telling Calgarians to vote 'no' to Jason Kenney’s “ridiculous” referendums.
The city of Calgary has been covered in election signs as candidates for mayor, city council and school board trustees get their message out to voters about why they should be elected.
Members of Cypress County council are sharing messages of grief over the death of Alfred "Alf" Belyea, as RCMP announced murder charges against his wife.
Albertans will cast ballots Monday in a referendum that is technically about rejecting equalization but has morphed into more of a Prairie festivus airing of grievances.
Edmonton’s Lebanese community is rallying to raise the money to send a container of basic necessities to people in need in Lebanon.
A new local clothing collaboration promoting inclusivity is helping support a charity serving youth and adults with visible and invisible disabilities.
Police are investigating after a Lamborghini wound up smashed and abandoned in the middle of a Montreal boulevard.
The family of an Ottawa man who has been missing since Thursday is offering a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to him being found.
Kingston police, with assistance from the OPP riot squad and Durham Regional Police, moved in twice on Saturday to clear students from the streets and homes after declaring an 'aggravated nuisance party'.
Ottawa Public Health is reporting 35 more people in the city have tested positive for COVID-19.
Cannabis grower and retailer Tony Giorgi says the past three years have been 'a wild ride.'
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is reporting 10 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, but no new deaths.
A canoeist was brought to safety by firefighters after their canoe capsized in a south London pond.
While things look a little different as a result of the pandemic, the Northern Game Expo is back for its sixth year and event organizers say they couldn’t be happier.
The organization representing Canada's tourism industry is applauding the U.S. government's decision to allow Canadian travellers with mixed vaccine doses once the border opens in November.
Japan's new prime minister on Sunday said the planned mass disposal of wastewater stored at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cannot be delayed, despite concerns from local residents.
The province saw a large increase in overdose deaths in 2020 compared to 2019, and one addiction recovery organization said the problem is only getting worse.
‘It’s ludicrous and it’s dangerous’: seniors’ advocate cries foul over letters for personal care home help
A seniors’ care advocate is crying foul after letters from two Manitoba personal care homes were sent to residents’ families, warning they may need to help with care starting Monday.
Saskatchewan set a new daily record for COVID-19 ICU patients on Sunday with 84 people currently receiving intensive care, after breaking its existing record on Saturday with 81.
Saskatoon city councillors and the mayor are expected to debate options on the future of the city’s curbside garbage collection and the implementation of a curbside organics rollout, scheduled for January 2023.
Over 100 people took part in a scavenger hunt across Saskatoon, helping raise money for cystic fibrosis (CF) clinical research.
Saskatchewan is asking other provinces if they have health-care workers they could send if needed in the coming days to help its struggling intensive care units.
The Saskatchewan Underwater Council (SUC) and the Moose Jaw Barracudas Scuba Club invited divers from the province to try their hand at carving a pumpkin underwater.
Operators of Vancouver music venues say B.C.'s COVID-19 restrictions are pushing their businesses to the brink of closure.
The government of Hong Kong has banned Air Canada flights from Vancouver after a passenger on a recent flight tested positive for COVID-19.
Mounties in Coquitlam are asking the public for help identifying a suspicious man who approached two girls while they were walking home from school last week.
Two public Christmas celebrations on Vancouver Island have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic for a second straight year.
With much of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland under rainfall warnings this weekend, ICBC is warning drivers to be careful.