Calgary

Suicide at Calgary hospital shows need for transparency, mental health advocates say

Mental health advocates are raising questions after a psychiatric patient at the Peter Lougheed Centre died by suicide last month.

Officials promise to review events leading up to death of psychiatric patient

A psychiatric patient's suicide last month at the Peter Lougheed Centre has mental health advocates calling on AHS to be more forthcoming about its handling of such issues. (CBC)

Mental health advocates are raising questions after a psychiatric patient at the Peter Lougheed Centre died by suicide last month.

The inpatient jumped from an upper-level storey of a parking garage at the facility on July 25.

"I was… shocked," said psychiatrist Dr. Safeer Khan. "It was a big tragedy." 

Angelica Martin with the Open Arms Patient Advocacy Society says greater transparency is needed in light of recent deaths. (CBC)

Khan did not know the patient, and does not speak on behalf of Alberta Health Services (AHS), but he says the tragedy touched him.

In 2006, Khan briefly treated inpatient Diana Mitsuko Yano, 44, before she took her life in the same way.

Khan calls that incident "horrible."

A public fatality inquiry followed that incident and found that mentally ill patients need to be better tracked, among other recommendations.

Review underway

AHS officials have not said whether the hospital made any changes recommended in the inquiry report, which came out in 2009.

Nor has AHS commented on last month's death, citing patient confidentiality.

But in a statement to CBC News, AHS says it will "review all aspects of the events leading up to the tragedy."

In-hospital suicides "are things we need to talk about to stimulate change," says Rick Lundy, founder of the Open Arms Patient Advocacy Society.

"For [AHS] to say, 'We're not talking about these things,' just sweeps it under the carpet." 

Angelica Martin, also with the society, says AHS should offer greater transparency about what decisions were made at the hospital leading up to the patient's death.

"[To] understand … what steps currently are in place. What is the procedure in terms of determining, for a case like this, if the person is fit and safe to travel out in the community by themselves outside of the unit."

now