The mother of a 20-year-old promising mixed martial arts fighter and career firefighter who committed suicide earlier this month says the mental health system is failing Nova Scotians and especially young adults.
Lisa Glode's son Cody died March 2. He had battled depression from age of 13, but had been successfully treating it until this fall.
At age 19, he became the youngest full-time firefighter with the Truro Fire Service and the only Mi'kmaw person with the department. His MMA career was about to go to the next level.
"Here's this young, vibrant 20-year-old who has a full-time career and is starting another career. He was getting ready to go pro. Everybody thought Cody Glode had it all," Lisa Glode told CBC Radio's Information Morning.
That changed last fall when the symptoms of his mental illness returned. Glode said her son had stopped taking his medication for depression "some time ago." He started taking it again before Christmas, but it made little difference.
"He was already spiralling downward very quickly," she said.
When the situation reached a crisis point, Glode said they reached out to the mental health help line.
"There was no immediate assistance," Glode said. The family, she said, was told to try the emergency room at a hospital.
The hospital visit resulted in a prescription for medication and sleeping pills, but Cody was only allowed to take a half-caplet three times a week, Glode said. He was told to follow up with his family doctor.
The follow-up appointment got him a recommendation to see a psychologist, but the earliest appointment was the end of April.
They eventually found a therapist right away who realized Cody needed immediate help and monitoring and booked him in for the following week.
"He didn't live to see that appointment," his mother said.
Glode said the family isn't trying to lay blame, but they do want Nova Scotians to take notice.
"What's it going to take for people to see that we're in dire straits? It's an epidemic. And people are still ashamed to come forward."
Health Minister Leo Glavine said Thursday he has discussed youth mental health with other provincial health ministers, in particular the difficult age between late teens and early 20s as patients transition into the adult mental health system.
"It is one of those areas where we have to make considerable improvement on," he said. "I am concerned about bridging between the IWK and youth mental health into the early adult years."
Mental health announcements coming
Glavine said he also wonders if there could be improvement in communicating to Nova Scotians the different points of access for mental health services.
"We have a lot of ability to access mental health," he said. "So it may be a time when we take stock of what we're doing around having Nova Scotians well informed about the areas in which they can get mental health support."
Glavine said there will be two or three major announcements about mental health in the spring. He said he is pleased with the improvements with wait times and newly trained doctors but it's still not good enough.
"Good work is being done in some areas, more remains to be done," he said.
In Cody's obituary, his mother added the line: "As a nation, we need to pray and work towards breaking the never ending cycle of suicide amongst our youth in the First Nation communities and the world as a whole."
"I wanted to people to know. I wanted people to know that he struggled," she said. "It was the illness that killed him. It was not my son. It was not Cody."