New Brunswick

Report into Lexi Daken's death now in health minister's hands

Lexi Daken's father hopes his family will see the findings of a report into her death before the Department of Health releases it publicly. 

Shephard had asked health authorities for report into teen's death by end of March

Lexi Daken was a Grade 10 student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton. (Submitted by Chris Daken)

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."

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

Daken said he hasn't heard from anyone from the department yet.

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. She took her own life in February after reaching out for help multiple times. (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 Network officials for recommendations and gave them until the end of March to report back to her. 

On Thursday, Macfarlane said the report will be reviewed in the days ahead.

"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," Macfarlane said in an 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. (Gary Moore/CBC archive)

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  /

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

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


Mia Urquhart is a journalist with CBC New Brunswick, based in Saint John. She can be reached at