Report into Rehtaeh Parsons case calls for hospital review

The RCMP say they have made two arrests in the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Halifax girl who was taken off life-support following a suicide attempt in April. Facebook

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s Health Department should launch an independent review of the Halifax hospital where Rehtaeh Parsons was admitted when she became suicidal, a report released Friday says.

The report on the 17-year-old girl’s case issued 13 recommendations that call for revised school codes of conduct and an emphasis on prevention of bullying, among other measures. Most of the recommendations can be implemented using resources already in place, the report said.

“Rehtaeh was a young woman of great promise whose needs were not met,” said the report commissioned by the provincial government.

“Rehtaeh Parsons’ story is one of too many in Nova Scotia and across Canada involving young people who see no way out of their problems. This is why our emphasis has to be upstream on prevention of bullying, cyberbullying, and sexual assault. The problems belong to all of us.”

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Rehtaeh’s father took her to the IWK Health Centre in March 2012, about five months after she was allegedly sexually assaulted, after she had a breakdown and became suicidal, the report said. She stayed there for five weeks.

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A year later, she died after attempting suicide.

The provincial government said in a statement that it accepts all of the report’s recommendations.

“Rehtaeh’s story is not an easy one to listen to, but it’s important that we hear it,” said Marilyn More, a Nova Scotia cabinet minister who has been appointed to oversee the province’s response to Rehtaeh’s case.

“This is not the end of our work; far from it. The review and its recommendations will be added to the efforts currently underway.”

The review was done by Debra Pepler, a psychology professor at York University, and Penny Milton, the former CEO of the Canadian Education Association. It was launched after Rehtaeh hanged herself on April 4 and was taken off life-support three days later.

Her family alleges she was sexually assaulted by four boys in November 2011 and a digital photograph of the incident was passed around her school.

Her death sparked national outrage and prompted the Nova Scotia government to also launch a review of the RCMP’s original investigation into the case.

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The Mounties said they looked into the allegations but concluded in consultation with Nova Scotia’s Public Prosecution Service there were no grounds to lay charges. They have since reopened their investigation after receiving what they describe as “new and credible” information.

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