Carleton student hoped for recovery before suicide, inquest hears
Jason Renato Simon, 20, sought help from doctors, social workers, police before taking his own life in 2016
The inquest into the suicide of Jason Renato Simon heard on Tuesday that the Carleton University student had sought the help of 10 professionals including doctors, counsellors, social workers and police officers before taking his own life.
Simon, who was also a Canadian Armed Forces member, was found dead in his Ottawa residence near St. Laurent Shopping Centre on Feb. 15, 2016. He was 20.
Jason was turned away because nobody believed him.- Margit Simon
The inquest will hear from about 28 witnesses. At its conclusion, the five-member jury is expected to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.
Troy Harrison, counsel to inquest coroner Dr. Robert Reddoch, told the hearing at Ottawa City Hall that Simon had repeatedly reached out for help before his death.
Simon also called a crisis line twice, and police intervened on two occasions, the inquest heard.
'Losing a child is heartbreaking'
The public hearing is being attended by Simon's parents, Margit and Attila Simon, as well as representatives of the Ottawa and Montfort hospitals, Carleton University and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Margit Simon was the first witness called. She testified that during a hospital stay prior to her son's death, he was hopeful he would receive the help he needed.
But that hope faded as the days progressed, she said.
"Losing a child is heartbreaking, especially when they could have been helped if someone would have listened," she told the inquest.
"Now we are left behind to pick up the pieces."
Before her son's descent into depression, he was happy and wanted to graduate early so he could work full time in the military, she said.
"Since he was four years old, he wanted to be a frontline soldier," she said.
A survivor's story
Melissa Pang, 35, also testified Tuesday. Pang, a federal government employee, told the inquest about her own struggles with depression, and the help she received to overcome her mental health struggles.
During law school at McGill University, Pang said she began to suffer from sleeplessness and increasing anxiety.
"I found myself crying for no reason on a frequent basis," she told the inquest.
Pang said her family recognized a serious change in her behaviour and pulled her out of school just before exams to get her the assistance she needed.
She said having people listen to her was critical to her survival.
"I was very lucky to have that support. I moved back to Ottawa to live at my parents and I got to see a doctor and a psychologist and a psychiatrist right away," said Pang.
Margit Simon said her son never found that sympathetic ear among the professionals he encountered.
"Jason was turned away because nobody believed him," she said. "I want doctors and health-care professionals to listen better and hear what the patient has to say."
The inquest is expected to last nine days.
Need help? Here are some mental health resources in the National Capital Region:
- Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553).
- Ottawa Suicide Prevention: 613-238-3311.