Lexi Daken's family hopes to see report soon

·4 min read
Lexi Daken was a Grade 10 student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton.  (Submitted by Chris Daken - image credit)
Lexi Daken was a Grade 10 student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton. (Submitted by Chris Daken - image credit)

Chris Daken hopes the Department of Health will share the findings of a report into his daughter's death with his family before everyone else sees it.

"My hope is that we would be privy to see it before it was released publicly," he said on Thursday.

"At least then, we're not caught off guard with what's in the review or the report."

Daken has heard that the report is in the hands of the minister, but so far, he hasn't heard from anyone from the department.

He said he knows that health officials will likely want to review the document for a few days, but he's hopeful he and Lexi's mom will be next on the list of people who can see it.

The report comes in the wake of the death by suicide of his 16-year-old daughter, Lexi.

Lexi Daken, shown here in her player card from last season, loved softball.
Lexi Daken, shown here in her player card from last season, loved softball. (Submitted by Chris Daken)

On March 3, two weeks after Lexi's death, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard called the system "broken" and vowed to make changes to improve it.

She said she asked Horizon Health officials for recommendations and gave them until the end of March to report back to her.

Department spokesperson Bruce Macfarlane confirmed the report was in the minister's hands.

"The Minister plans to have a round-table meeting with stakeholders shortly and will have more news to share after the meeting in the coming days," wrote Macfarlane by email Thursday afternoon.

After Lexi's death, Shephard also met with New Brunswick's child and youth advocate, Norm Bossé, to talk about a review of services for mental health care for those in crisis.

Bossé's independent review would likely be made public in a report, but would not entail calling witnesses to publicly testify, as a public inquiry would — something Lexi's parents have said they would like to see.

Flowers, teddy bears, and pictures of Lexi Daken that were left outside the provincial legislature during a vigil Feb. 28.
Flowers, teddy bears, and pictures of Lexi Daken that were left outside the provincial legislature during a vigil Feb. 28.(Gary Moore/CBC)

Lexi, a Grade 10 student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton, had previously attempted suicide. On Feb. 18, her school guidance counsellor was so concerned about her well being she took Lexi to the emergency room at Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital.

They waited for eight hours without receiving any mental health intervention.

Lexi died by suicide less than a week later.

Within a day of her death, Lexi's parents began speaking publicly about their experience trying to get help for her. They vow to continue to speak out in an effort to change the system and prevent other families from going through what they went through.

Daken hopes the report will be a first step in mapping out changes to the system.

"I hope the health minister makes some changes for the mental health-care system and some improvements can be made with what they've found in the review," said Daken.

"We know this is a broken system and things have to change."

Daken said Shephard told the family that she wasn't content to wait for the department's five-year plan to kick in. She wanted action immediately.

Lexi's story a catalyst for change

Criticism of the province's mental health-care system isn't new, and Daken isn't sure why his daughter's story has resonated with people and been the catalyst for calls for change.

"I've asked myself that a thousand times," he said.

"Why is it Lexi's story that's garnered so much attention? Why hasn't it been the 50 children before that garnered this kind of attention?"

Daken said he's at a loss to explain why.

He suspects parents may have realized that if this tragedy could happen to a smart, athletic, outwardly-happy kid like Lexi, it could happen to anyone's child.

"I don't think a lot of parents … truly understand how broken our mental health care system is until you get in that health-care bubble when you're looking for help," Daken said.

If you need help:

CHIMO hotline: 1-800-667-5005 / http://www.chimohelpline.ca

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566.