Truro prison didn't notify Camille Strickland-Murphy's family of self-harm attempt, brother says

Camille Strickland-Murphy's self-harm attempt one week prior to her death went unreported to her family, and according to her brother, they weren't notified until after she took her own life in prison.

Nova Institution for Women provided no comment on Strickland-Murphy's case

Camille Strickland-Murphy was found unresponsive in her cell this week. (CBC)

Camille Strickland-Murphy's self-harm attempt one week prior to her death went unreported to her family, and according to her brother, they weren't notified until after she took her own life in prison.

Murphy, 22, was found unresponsive in her cell on July 28 at Nova Institution for Women in Truro, N.S.

Camille's twin brother, Keir Strickland-Murphy, said he didn't receive any information from prison staff about two prior self-harm attempts by his sister.

"I just think family members being informed we might have been able to help or just would have been better for us to know. We would have been able to talk to her about it," Keir Strickland-Murphy told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from St. John's.

"There may be some people who would not want their family to be informed, but I don't think my sister was one of them."

When the family was notified, Keir Strickland-Murphy told CBC News, it was by police, not prison staff.

The Correctional Service of Canada declined The Canadian Press a request for an interview and said in an email that privacy issues prevent it from discussing individual cases.

The email response said that in cases where the inmate has self-harmed or attempted suicide, "the decision and onus to inform the family normally rests with the inmate."

The service said if the inmate is hospitalized and is not able to provide informed consent, it can release the information to the family if "disclosure would clearly benefit the individual to whom the information relates," with the decision falling to the leader of the institution or the district director.

A spokesperson for the Nova Institution for Women provided no comment on Strickland-Murphy's case when contacted by CBC News on Friday. 

Strickland-Murphy was serving a three-year sentence for the armed robbery of a Shoppers Drug Mart in St. John's in 2014.

She had drug and alcohol addictions as well as mental illness, corrections officials in Newfoundland noted during one of her court appearances.

In 2012, Strickland-Murphy asked for a federal sentence to get help for serious mental health issues, including panic attacks and anxiety that she self-medicated with drugs and alcohol.

Meanwhile, the family of Veronica Park, another Newfoundland woman who died while in custody at Nova Institution on April 24, said prison staff didn't notify them of any problems with Park prior to her death.

As with any death in prison, the country's Correctional Investigator is reviewing both cases. 

With files from The Canadian Press