Kamloops, B.C. [April 15]—The Jury presiding over the coroner’s inquest into the death of Jacob Setah has issued 15 recommendations following four days of hearings into the circumstances surrounding the 18-year-old’s death.
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Jurors heard from doctors, psychiatric nurses, and community mental health workers, all of whom testified to the multiple barriers that exist in accessing mental health services in rural communities and on reserve. The jury recommended significant changes to how these services are delivered to First Nations communities, including a call to introduce a youth mental health crisis response team, and to explore the expansion of video conferencing health services.
The jury also heard how Jacob was transferred away from his home to Royal Inland Hospital against his family’s will due to a lack of appropriate psychiatric facilities in Williams Lake, and recommended changes to both the Cariboo Hospital and to community mental health services in the surrounding area to accommodate youth in crisis and their families.
Russell Myers Ross, Chief of the Yunesit’in Government on Stone Reserve, where Jacob grew up, was present for the duration of the inquest and stated: “Until this Inquest, the facts of the tragedy had been a mystery to the family and community. As a result some of the feelings of anger and grief have resurfaced and there is still a need for healing. The need to support families so they can be deeply involved in their child's care is important, and moving forward, there is more responsibility for all that choose to learn about this event to improve our communities."
After RCMP officers on the scene testified about the use of a taser on Jacob as an attempt to “de-escalate” the situation, and how it ultimately failed, the jury also recommended a review of taser use in critical incidents where someone is threatening self-harm, stating they could not tell whether or not their use was potentially helpful or harmful in these circumstances. An expert on police use of force testified that even in ideal conditions tasers fail about 20% of the time they are deployed, and officers at the inquest conceded that the constable who fired the taser was unaware of other efforts being made to bring in either a crisis negotiator or psychiatrist to speak with Jacob.
The jury's full recommendations can be read here.