VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – A lack of timely access to mental health services contributed to the suicide death of a First Nations teen back in 2013 and is continuing to place Aboriginal children and youth at risk. That’s the key finding of a new report from BC’s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
The report looks at the case of a 16-year-old BC boy who left school one morning, walked into a forest, and took his own life. Turpel-Lafond says little has changed since his death.
She points out three years later, wait lists for mental health services in the area of BC where the teen died are still about nine months.
Turpel-Lafond says a lack of proper assessment and treatment for the teen was partly a result of miscommunication and little follow-up between service providers who reportedly falsely believed he was already getting the support he needed.
She adds the Children’s Ministry failed to provide enough staff to an aboriginal agency serving the boy’s undisclosed community and that employees were unable to properly help him because they were getting records in order for a ministry audit.
Turpel-Lafond makes five recommendations, including getting the federal government’s involvement in creating a lead agency to ensure mentally ill aboriginal youth can be assessed and treated within two months.