A B.C. coroner’s investigation into the death of Nick Lang, the teenage boy who took his own life while in government care, cannot determine whether his death was suicide or accidental.
The report says there was evidence the 15-year-old Lang, who was found dead in a closet with a shoelace around his neck on June 9, 2015, was participating in the “choking game.”
The game’s intention is not to cause self-harm but instead to cut off oxygen to the brain for a feeling of euphoria. It’s a risky behaviour that can result in death or leave the person with brain damage.
Conversely, B.C. Coroner Adele Lambert also found that Lang had been under stress prior to his death, which included a suicide threat.
The theories, which Lambert called compelling, led to Lang’s death being ruled undetermined by the coroner.
“After a full investigation and careful consideration of all available evidence, it cannot be determined whether this death was due to injuries inflicted intentionally (Suicide) or unintentionally (Accidental),” Lambert said in her report.
“Where there is equal evidence, or a significant contest, among two or more classifications, this death must be ruled undetermined.”
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Lang was addicted to meth and was placed with a family in Campbell River, B.C. while he attended a treatment program for drug addiction that was paid for by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Lang’s family said their son was not properly supervised while he was in care, but his host family said they were never informed that Lang needed constant supervision. He died after being in care for six days.
His family filed a civil lawsuit in March, claiming a series of mistakes and a lack of attention that cost their son his life.
The civil suit includes a long list of what Lang’s parents claim are errors that all played a role in their son’s 2015 death.
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Lambert recommended that the Representative for Children and Youth considers reviewing the government services provided to Lang “with a view to improving services and outcomes for children in the Province of British Columbia.”
~ with files from Amy Judd and Jon Azpiri