At the request of the coroner for Ontario’s eastern region, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division recently participated in a coroner’s inquest into the death of Jason Renato Simon to provide expertise to the coroner and jury on suicide prevention, mental health and substance use from a community-based care perspective.
Simon, a Canadian Armed Forces reservist and student at Carleton University, saw five psychiatrists and was discharged from three hospitals in the weeks before dying by suicide in February 2016. Simon was not a CMHA client and never received services from any branch.
After reviewing all the evidence and hearing all the witness testimony in the inquest into Simon’s death, CMHA Ontario highlighted for the jury five main areas of importance when responding to an individual with suicidal ideation:
- Assessing risk
- Crisis response
- Creating a safety plan
- Providing ongoing case management
- Connecting the individual with a community-based mental health and addictions service provider that can provide a holistic approach to care
Jennifer Ward, crisis services team lead at CMHA Peel Dufferin, testified as an expert witness on the strengths and weaknesses of emergency mental health services, best practices and community mental health services. In addition, CMHA Ottawa and CMHA Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge provided mental health supports to several witnesses at the inquest.
Community-based mental health is care provided outside of the hospital setting. It includes services and supports provided across the continuum of care, including health promotion, illness prevention, treatment and recovery. It includes not only treatment and crisis response, but also outreach, case management and related services, such as housing and employment supports.
Community-based mental health and substance use care identifies the importance of communities in supporting recovery. This philosophy is supported by the fact that individuals receiving care generally prefer to do so within their community, and that for most individuals, formal mental health services are just one piece of the puzzle. In an ideal world, Simon would have been connected to all the resources available in his community.
CMHA Ontario greatly appreciated this opportunity to participate in the inquest and share our perspective with the coroner and jury.