Fredericton teen who took her own life remembered at drive-by vigil
'It was overwhelming to see how many lives she touched'
Cars lined a portion of Queen St. in downtown Fredericton on Sunday night for a drive-by vigil to remember 16-year-old Lexi Daken, who died by suicide on Wednesday.
Other people gathered outside the New Brunswick Legislature holding candles, flowers and pictures of the teenager.
Those who knew Daken remember her as witty, smart and athletic.
Nicole Cormier-Fontaine taught Daken in middle school, and said she was a wonderful person who made an impact on everyone she met.
"She was only here for 16 years, but in those 16 years she touched more lives than I could ever imagine," she said.
Because of the pandemic, people were encouraged to drive past to pay their respects. A steady stream of traffic flowed past the government building for an hour.
"It was overwhelming to see how many lives she touched," Cormier-Fontaine said, "I think there were more cars than there were people standing here, I kept seeing them roll by."
The 16-year-old's death has garnered a lot of attention with calls from the family to improve care for people who are suffering from mental health problems.
The teenager died by suicide less than a week after she was sent home from the emergency room at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton.
A school guidance counsellor had taken her to the hospital on Feb. 18 because she was concerned about her mental health.
After waiting more than eight hours, Daken left with a referral and without seeing a mental health professional.
A few months earlier, in November 2020, she attempted suicide and was brought to the same emergency room.
While in the early stages of mourning the teenager, Daken's family went public to share Lexi's story to call for change.
Horizon Health Network said it is reviewing its "internal processes to determine where improvements could have been made" in regards to Daken's death.
Jessica Holly, from the Saint John-based Bridge of Hope group, organized the vigil. She said Daken's death should be the "final wake up call" for the provincial government and health l, authority to take mental health seriously.
"It needs to change right now, and not five years from now," she said, "I think they need to throw out the entire system they have now and start over."
Holly did not know Daken or her family before organizing the vigil but said she hopes it provided some comfort to the community and those who knew Daken.
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.