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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another One Bites The Dust - Canadian Teen's Death Cloaked In Secrecy



With the Ashley Smith inquest halted due to legal implications, another inquest is underway to determine how a 16-year-old boy known by the initials G.A was found hanging in a youth jail.

For background on the Ashley Smith inquest see HERE.

Meantime, the Coroner's court are desperately trying to suppress information with regard to "G.A." The province has deployed a small army of lawyers to keep secret all records that could explain how this happened. One has to ask why, exactly who or what are they trying to protect?

Staff reporter for The Star, Diana Zlomislic, has the scoop. She writes:

The case involves a 16-year-old boy known by the initials G.A., who was sent to Syl Apps Youth Centre in Oakville after a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a social worker determined he had “very serious mental health issues” and needed secure treatment. A judge agreed.

But the teen never made it to the jail’s secure treatment unit, a hospital-like setting. Instead, he was placed in general detention while the facility waited for $3,500 in government funding to complete another court-ordered assessment on the boy, who had been described as everything from paranoid and psychotic to polite and personable. Less than a month after arriving at the facility, and just five days after his 17th birthday, the teen hanged himself with a shoelace on May 13, 2008.

The inquest has heard that G.A. came to Canada at age 11 with his sister and parents from Kazakhstan, where he was a gifted student who excelled at math. He practised judo, karate, rock climbing and gymnastics.

Within days of arriving in Canada, his parents separated — something that had been planned without the children’s knowledge.

Both parents found new partners and the siblings split time between their homes in Ajax and Pickering.

When his sister started using drugs, the inquest heard the teen was devastated at losing what he felt was his last role model.

By the time he started Grade 9, G.A. started to experiment with alcohol and fell behind at school.

He was sent to Brookside Youth Centre in Cobourg in January 2008, after pleading guilty to assaulting his 23-year-old sister.

At Brookside, the youth told psychologist Dr. John Satterberg, who is now retired in Newfoundland, that he wanted “to straighten out his thinking.” He said he heard voices.

At their next session, G.A. seemed like a different person, the inquest heard.

The psychologist, frightened, ended the session abruptly after the teen kicked the table and lifted it off the floor.

Zlomislic adds that this isn't the first time a youth has died whilst in custody in Ontario. An inquest recommended the use of segregation cells be abolished after 16-year-old James Lonnee’s death at Guelph’s Wellington Detention Centre in 1996. Segregation cells are still in use today!

In 2009, 22 year old Kulmire Aganeh died following an altercation with several staff members at the **Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, his crime? He stole a car.

It is becoming commonplace, it seems, in Canada for coroners and lawyers to keep the dead from having a voice. Something the coroners of Ontario seem to be ignoring is their own motto, “We Speak for The Dead to Protect The Living."

Keeping details from the public may be down to privacy acts but suppressing voices of dead children/adolescents who died whilst under the care of psychiatric doctors and nurses is unforgivable. It's bad enough that these young adults were deprived of their youth and, in the case of Aganeh and Smith, forced to take medication against their will.

Canada needs a kick up the arse, it needs to protect the vulnerable and not those that put these people in vulnerable situations. That goes for doctors prescribing drugs not recommended for children too!

Diana Zlomislic's full article can be read HERE

Interestingly, in another Canadian newspaper today, The National Post, Christie Blatchford writes about the legal implications in the Ashley Smith inquest.

It seems rather odd that two kids who died whilst in the apparent care of psychiatry  are both having their voices stifled by Ontario Coroners.

Point of interest here is the Ontario Coroners Code of Ethics:

21. Coroners shall not conduct themselves in a manner which might tend to bring their office into disrepute or affect public confidence in that office.

Recent findings would, I suggest, lean toward a lack of confidence from the Canadian public.

** Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene have recently changed their name to Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.


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