The Fraser Valley family of a Metis 15-year-old who died days after entering a government-funded drug rehab program says they felt forced to pursue youth justice charges against their son, in order to get him the help he needed.
The revelation was made public in a report released by B.C.’s Child and Youth Representative today.
It says the Campbell River treatment centre was a condition of his probation after he assaulted his mother on April 1,2015.
Father Peter Lang says he was desperate to get help for his meth-addicted son.
“You can’t put a price on youth lives, I certainly can’t put a price on my own son’s life. Any amount of resources would have helped back in January of last year and possibly helped us avoid this whole thing all together.”
B.C.’s child and youth watchdog recommends the provincial government “develop and fund a comprehensive system of substance use services” to meet the diverse needs of youth and their families.
What motivated Nick’s actions on the night of his death remains unclear, whether he was intent on killing himself or seeking the momentary euphoria brought on by selfasphyxiation.
The coroner could not reach a conclusion, and it is not the purpose of this report to answer that question.
Minister of Children and Family Development
In response to the report, Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux says the circumstances of Nick’s death have now been reviewed by three separate agencies, and while they appreciate the additional perspective of the Representative’s report, much of the recommended work is beyond the Ministry’s mandate.
She says they will be talking to other Ministries.
As for provincial mental health and substance abuse services, her government has convened a cross-ministry Cabinet Working Group on Mental Health with a key goal to identify and address gaps in the current system, and make sure that individuals and families can access support services early – before they find themselves in a crisis.
In a statement, the B.C. Children’s Ministry critic says the report into Nick Lang’s death, and the Province’s reaction to it – is always the same.
Melanie Mark says there wouldn’t be so many tragedies if Minister Stephanie Cadieux put more energy into protecting children, and less time fundraising and protecting the Clark government.
Mark says no parent should be forced to have their child charged with a crime to get access to treatment for addiction.
Mark also says that, in the Fraser Health area, where Nick lived, the number of youth addictions beds plunged by over 50 per cent during the time that he was in need of services.