Mom left grieving and outraged after hospital releases suicidal son
Published Thursday, May 5, 2016 7:05PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 5, 2016 7:07PM PDT
Kim Young’s 38-year-old son Eddie will never get the help he desperately needed.
On Wednesday, he was discharged from Burnaby General Hospital, where his mom had dropped him off days earlier fearing he would take his own life – something he had threatened to do before.
One hour after his release, Eddie was dead.
“He’s been threatening to kill himself, I told them. He’s been telling me he wants to die,” Young told CTV News.
The grieving mother is now demanding answers, arguing the warning signs from her son were either missed or ignored.
Young said Eddie showed up at the door of her Burnaby home on Monday looking distraught and confused. She took him to the emergency room and asked that her son see a psychiatrist.
Eddie had long suffered from anxiety, depression and panic attacks. He’d led a troubled life, but Young said he always had the same good heart he had as a boy.
“He was the greatest kid ever, you know,” she said, crying and gesturing to a picture of Eddie at four years old. “Rambunctious, full of life. He’s got a heart of gold, this one.”
Eddie remained in hospital for the next three days. Young said she phoned and visited repeatedly, and every time she made one request to staff: “Please, if you’re going to release my son, please give him to me.”
She claims staff members promised to fulfill her request, but on Wednesday, after being cared for by nurses, doctors and two psychiatrists, Eddie was given a bus ticket and released on his own.
Shortly after, police and paramedics surrounded a bridge near the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain Station in Vancouver. Young’s son had jumped.
“They might as well have just gave him a ticket and sent him to the bridge to jump, because in my eyes that’s what they did,” she said.
The Fraser Health Authority said it’s launching a review into what happened, as it always does in cases that end in tragedy.
The health authority told CTV News it can’t comment on the specifics of Eddie’s treatment, but said dealing with potentially suicidal patients is one of the most complex and difficult aspects of health workers’ jobs.
Emergency room staff won’t discharge those patients if they’re believed to be at risk of self-harm, Fraser Health said, but they can be released if their suicidal feelings seem to have subsided. Staff will first offer various resources, from appointments for further mental health help to housing support or addictions services.
If necessary, they can also help make transportation arrangements.
Dr. Victoria Lee, Chief Medical Officer for Fraser Health, offered condolences to Young, and said her son’s death has impacted the people who tried to help him profoundly.
“It was a tragic event that happened and our care team is also deeply affected by the events that have unfolded,” Lee said.
“Health care providers come to the hospitals, community clinics day-to-day to help people, and they are dedicated.”
Asked about the decision to release Eddie on his own, Lee said hospital staff will “follow the patient’s wishes in terms of discharge planning.”
The findings from the review into his case will not be publicized, but Fraser Health said they will be shared with his mother.
Young said if nothing else, she hopes sharing her son’s tragic story will help draw attention to the issue of suicide, and ensure people with mental health problems are listened to.
“Take them seriously, at their word,” she said. “They want the help.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s St. John Alexander