Lexi Daken’s family says provincial review a ‘good first step’

Click to play video: 'N.B. launches mental health review after teen’s death' N.B. launches mental health review after teen’s death
WATCH: The New Brunswick government is launching a review into its mental health supports one week after a Fredericton teen’s family went public with their grief and frustration. Lexi Daken died by suicide despite reaching out for help. Travis Fortnum reports. – Mar 4, 2021

Lexi Daken’s family says they welcome New Brunswick’s review of crisis care in the province.

The 16-year-old died by suicide last week, just days after spending eight hours in the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital ER asking for help.

She eventually left without getting it, feeling like a burden, according to her family.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard announced Wednesday she’d asked New Brunswick Child, Youth and Seniors’ Advocate Norman Bossé to conduct a review of the province’s mental health care – paying special attention to crisis care.

Read more: ‘I mean it’ — N.B. health minister announces crisis care review after Lexi Daken’s death

She says she’d also asked both Horizon and Vitalité Health Networks to provide recommendations for how care in such situations could be improved by month-end.

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These, the Dakens say, are good first steps.

“We met with the minister yesterday,” Chris Daken said Thursday. “I think she’s a very sincere woman. When she gives her word she means what she says.”

He says change is long overdue in how we handle mental health – especially when those in crisis go to an emergency room as Lexi did.

“When you look at the province’s website for what you should do, it says call this number, call this number and if that doesn’t help, report to your ER,” Daken says.

“We followed the steps that we were supposed to follow and we didn’t get a good outcome.”

In the days since Lexi died, the Dakens have received an overwhelming amount of support as people beyond their community reach out to share stories of times they, too, felt like a burden while in crisis.

“My parents and I have been receiving messages from people all over Canada and even some in the States,” says Lexi’s sister Piper.

“From them messaging me I know it’s going to get better and I’m not going to feel this hurt all the time.”

Click to play video: 'N.B. health minister announces crisis care review after teen’s death' N.B. health minister announces crisis care review after teen’s death
N.B. health minister announces crisis care review after teen’s death – Mar 3, 2021

Piper has been a strong advocate for change in her sister’s name through the past week, personally connecting with New Brunswick Green Party Leader David Coon over the weekend.

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“I’d like to know that it’s not just the government in power now that’s helping to move this forward,” she said.

“It’s nice to know that other people are working towards this goal as well.”

The family met with Coon Thursday, when they say he assured them he’d fight for changes to New Brunswick’s crisis care regardless of the review’s findings.

Read more: More New Brunswickers experiencing thoughts of suicide, self harm, CMHA says

The Dakens will now wait to see what those findings are.

“We’ll read the report over, see what the recommended changes are and if we’re happy with that, we’re happy with it,” the girls’ father says.

“We’re going to keep moving this forwards until we’re happy with the results.”

Bossé is expected to speak to media Friday morning, when more on the process may become available.

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