The province is now holding an inquest into the death of Samwel Uko following pressure from the Saskatchewan NDP, who said for years the Saskatchewan Party has failed to address the growing mental health crisis.
“Samwel was struggling, and he reached out for help repeatedly. That help simply wasn’t there when he needed it, said Ryan Meili, Saskatchewan NDP leader.
“When people are waiting an average of 13 hours to get mental health supports in our largest cities’ ERs, clearly more needs to be done to ensure that no other family goes through what Mr. Uko’s family has gone through.”
For weeks, the family of Uko has been searching for answers, trying to piece together how the 20-year-old, Abbotsford, B.C., resident, ended up in Wascana Lake after seeking help twice at the Regina General Hospital the day he died.
According to Uko’s uncle Justin Nyee, the Saskatchewan Health Authority told him protocol was not followed when the young man was escorted out of the hospital by security shortly before his body was discovered.
The visit was the second time Uko sought help that day.
“It’s something we need to know and everyone needs to know. What happened to Samwel shouldn’t happen to anyone else,” Nyee said.
“This issue is bigger than me and bigger than Samwel. He did what he had to do to hang onto his life. He did that, he tried his best. Nobody told him to go to the hospital. He did it himself.”
His cousin told Global News that he initially took him to the hospital on the morning of May 21, saying he was in a state of mental distress.
Nyee said that during the first visit his nephew was seen by a doctor and given a prescription, although it was never filled.
He also said Uko was referred to a mental health clinic and despite admitting he had thoughts of suicide, the clinic deemed his condition mild.
“We already lost Samwel, that’s the reality. We are already facing that, we already know that, but who is the next Samwel? We don’t want that to happen.”
The province said the date and location of the inquest will be determined at a later date.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, please reach out. Resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.