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Suicide at Calgary hospital raising some questions

FILE: Photo of the Alberta Health Services Office. Laurel Gregory/ Global News

Global News has learned Calgary police were called to Peter Lougheed Hospital (PLH) after a suicide in a parkade on July 25.

It is believed the person who died was being treated through the addictions and mental health unit at the time.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) will not confirm any details in reference to the victim or the incident but have confirmed that an incident did occur.

Julie Kerr with AHS told Global News there are procedures when patients come into that unit, and some of the procedures were put in place following an inquiry after a patient committed suicide in 2006.

Kerr said when patients are admitted who are seen as at risk of hurting themselves, they are individually assessed and managed according to the security measures in each unit. Each patient is also frequently reassessed.

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When asked about how much freedom a patient who is being treated through the addictions and mental health unit might be given, Kerr said sometimes part of their treatment is to test people’s ability to manage time off unit.

“We have to remember that these folks are patients right? They’re not prisoners.”

“The goal is always to have people living as freely as possible with the least possible restriction in the community, as is safe and possible,” Kerr said.

There are currently 68 in-patient acute psychiatry beds and 18 short-stay beds at the PLH. Kerr said the size of that unit has not kept pace with the demand for services.

“We’re always feeling pressure within our addiction and mental health in-patient units. We know that the capacity hasn’t grown as the population has grown and the demand,” Kerr said.

He said the stigma has improved around addiction and mental health, meaning more people are apt to ask for help, which is good thing.

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