Parallel investigations into the suicide last month of a teenager at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver are continuing by the B.C. Coroner’s Service and Vancouver Coastal Health.
The death happened in the emergency department.
Andy Watson, the spokesman for the coroners service, said all sudden, unexpected and/or unnatural deaths are investigated. A report will be written with the coroner’s findings and recommendations made to prevent future deaths by similar means.
An inquest may also be scheduled if a potentially dangerous practice or circumstance has been identified or if the death raises issues that are in the public interest and need more awareness. An inquest is conducted before a jury of five to seven individuals.
Vancouver Coastal Health is also doing a critical incident review, said spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson.
“The investigation is ongoing and we are restricted in comments we can make at this time. … The critical incident review will examine the circumstances surrounding the case and our processes in the care of this patient.”
The date of the suicide was March 23. According to an individual with knowledge of the event, a 17-year-old man on a “suicide watch” was alone in a dimly lit room when he used a piece of medical equipment in the room to asphyxiate himself. The hospital would not confirm the means by which the teen took his life.
Patients on suicide watch are generally monitored by guards or others and checked on frequently. It is believed there was someone sitting outside the room in which the teen was placed.
Watson said over 5,000 deaths each year are investigated by the coroner’s service. There are between 500 and 600 suicides annually in B.C., with 20 to 30 of them among individuals under the age of 19.
Meanwhile, the coroners service has announced a June 17 inquest into the death by drug overdose of another teenager, 16-year old Elliot Cleveland Eurchuk. Eurchuk died in April, 2018, after being found in an unresponsive state in his bed in his Oak Bay family’s home. His parents say that he became addicted to painkillers prescribed before and after surgery for athletic injuries. And then he became addicted to illicit drugs.
At one point, Eurchuk was discharged from the hospital even though he had overdosed in his hospital bed just days earlier. That inquest could last for two weeks as it will explore relevant issues around addictions and mental health, the education, health and justice systems.