5th report of teen suicide sparks call for change from Alberta youth advocate

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Office of the Child and Youth Advocate says the recommendations in its most recent report on a 17-year-old girl’s suicide “must be acted on.”

Seventeen-year-old “Catherine” was found dead near her family’s home. At the time of her death, Catherine was receiving support from Child Intervention Services. The province’s child and youth advocate said the teen’s parents felt overwhelmed by her behaviour so they reached out for help through the children’s mental health system.

“Catherine received mental health services from a young age and her death has raised questions about the response to youth who are at very high-risk for suicide,” said Del Graff, Provincial Child and Youth Advocate.

Graff said this is the fifth report from his office involving a young person who died by suicide. He said the recommendations in his most recent report must be acted on in order to improve supports and services for young people in Alberta.

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Following the release of the report Wednesday, Alberta’s Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir issued a statement saying his office has accepted Graff’s recommendations and “work has already begun on some of the important issues.”

“This is a tragic loss, and our thoughts continue to be with the family and those who cared for her. It’s clear that we need to do better when it comes to supporting Albertans with mental health challenges,” Sabir said. “Our government takes the issue of mental health seriously.”

Sabir said Alberta’s mental health system is currently under review.

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