Quebec coroner calls for better communication after father kills children, self

Click to play video: 'Coroner recommends lifting patient confidentiality in cases of family violence' Coroner recommends lifting patient confidentiality in cases of family violence
WATCH: Coroner Stéphanie Gamache has issued a series of recommendations in light of her inquiry into the tragic deaths of Élise, Hugo and Jonathan Pomares on October 22, 2019. Jonathan Pomares took his own life after murdering his children after learning his ex-wife wanted to end their relationship. Gloria Henriquez reports on the recommendations – Apr 12, 2022

A Quebec coroner’s report into the 2019 deaths of a Montreal father and his two young children is calling for more communication between public health authorities to monitor the risk of domestic violence after suicide attempts.

The bodies of Jonathan Pomares, his seven-year-old son Hugo and five-year-old daughter Élise were found on Oct. 22, 2019, in the family’s east-end Montreal house and were later confirmed as two murders followed by a suicide.

Read more: Quebec to examine services provided to Montreal man at centre of apparent murder-suicide

Coroner Stéphanie Gamache issued several recommendations Tuesday, saying there’s a need to change rules surrounding confidentiality on patient files.

The coroner’s report states that shortly before the tragedy, Pomares was taken to the hospital for a suicide attempt after his former wife told him she wanted to end the relationship.

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Pomares, 40, was seen by three psychiatrists at two hospitals and was released after the third one concluded he didn’t represent an imminent danger. It was a week later that he killed his children before taking his own life.

The coroner found that the first two psychiatrists had concluded Pomares needed to stay longer in the hospital. Gamache said the third psychiatrist who examined Pomares didn’t have the full portrait of the situation because he wasn’t able to communicate with Pomares’ former wife.

The fact that Pomares had been hospitalized for a suicide attempt 10 days before his killings was a red flag that could not be ignored, she said.

“In such a situation where a suicide attempt occurs in a context of imminent separation, it is imperative not to rely solely on the patient’s words,” Gamache said. She recommends the creation of a grid incorporating an outside view of the patient’s situation to evaluate the risk of homicide in such situations.

— If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the Quebec suicide prevention line at 1-866-277-3553.

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