Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Just a few days after Rhonda Clough’s son was released from Chilliwack General Hospital where he was brought by police, she says he walked into traffic on Highway 1 in what appears to be a suicide attempt.

Now Rhonda feels that the very healthcare system that is fixing his broken bones, his internal bleeding, and his brain injury, is a system that also let Shane down when it came to the 34-year-old’s mental health.

“The system failed to protect my son,” Rhonda told The Chilliwack Progress. “This story needs to be told, not just for my son but for the many others like him in the mental health system that are denied dignity and treatment.”

For 15 years, he has suffered with bipolar disorder and addictions. He was most recently living on the streets in Chilliwack, deemed a danger to Rhonda by a mental health worker, and clearly suicidal, according to her.

After being brought to Chilliwack General Hospital by RCMP for behaving erratically, he was discharged and on Nov. 12 at about 6:30 p.m., Shane walked out on to Highway 1.

A white SUV narrowly missed him, but another vehicle did not. He was struck and seriously injured in the incident.

READ MORE: RCMP looking for witnesses of pedestrian-involved Highway 1 collision in Chilliwack

The next day, Nov. 13, before Rhonda got the call that her son was in hospital, she got a bit of good news. Interior Health had issued a Form 21, essentially a warrant for his arrest to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

“I was shedding tears of joy,” Rhonda said, knowing that he needed to be apprehended for his own good.

But it was a day too late.

Her son had been living for years in the Vernon and Salmon Arm area, but he was born and raised in Chilliwack. When he recently came back to town, Rhonda got a call from his mental health worker to warn her because he has violent tendencies when not medicated.

“It’s hard to see the child that you love and the mental illness that it turns him into,” she said. “I love my son. When [he] is on proper medication, he’s a good person. When he’s off medication, on drugs, he’s not.”

Rhonda said he had been arrested by the RCMP for behaving erratically, she thinks that was Sunday (Nov. 8). He was taken to Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH), but he was later released.

She had him over at her house, but she caught him smoking crystal meth on Wednesday (Nov. 11) morning. That was the last she saw of him until she found out he had been hit on the highway.

Given that he had been detained by Interior Health, and she was warned that he was coming to town, and that he has made suicidal statements in the past, Rhonda is confused as to why he was not forcibly detained at CGH under the Mental Health Act.

“If he was a danger to us, why was he allowed to be out anyways?” she asked. “I don’t understand why the hospital wouldn’t have kept him.”

Asked about the case, a spokesperson for Fraser Health said in part that “care for patients who have mental health and substance use issues is challenging.”

Often substance use can lead to mental health issues that subside when a patient is stabilized, the statement said.

“A person can be certified under the Mental Health Act and admitted involuntarily to hospital if a physician’s recommendation to do this is approved by the facility director or delegate,” senior public affairs consultant Dixon Tam said via email.

For a person to be involuntarily admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act, they must meet a number of criteria: The person has a mental disorder; the person requires treatment in a designated facility; the person requires care, supervision and control in a designated facility to prevent substantial mental or physical deterioration or protection of the person or others; and the person cannot be voluntarily admitted.

A person can then be discharged when they no longer meet the four involuntary admission criteria.

“In all cases like this, we discuss a discharge plan with the patient prior to their discharge that includes topics such as follow-up appointments in the community, transportation, and notification of family members,” Tam said.

“We can confirm a discharge plan was discussed in this case.”

But that discharge plan was not discussed with Rhonda, presumably because he is an adult and not in her care.

“I was not notified by Chilliwack General Hospital about any discharge,” Rhonda said. “As far as I know there was no discharge plan discussed with me and as far as I understand no other family members were notified either. I was, however, notified by Interior Health days prior that he was coming to Chilliwack and that he was a danger to me and to not let him in my home.”

One of her unanswered questions is that if he was out of the psychiatric unit in Interior Health and was breaking conditions, as she understands he was, and if he was considered violent, why is that not considered a danger to the public?

“Also my son had expressed to me on the Monday prior to his suicide attempt that he had told the psychiatrist at CGH, or whomever did his assessment, that he was suicidal. I was astounded that they did not keep him.”

For Rhonda and for her son, the Form 21 apprehension came, but it was a day too late. Rhonda is now trying to be at his side in hospital when she can, hoping he will recover, albeit with serious permanent injuries.

She insists there was negligence in this case, and she wanted to share the story in the hopes that something like this can be prevented from happening to others.

“A lot of families like to keep it in,” Rhonda said. “I’m not ashamed. It’s an illness that failed to be treated.

“He is not his illness.”

As for the incident on the highway, Rhonda said her son suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that leads to blindness, but she said he wouldn’t have walked onto the highway by accident.

The driver who struck him co-operated with police, but RCMP Traffic are still looking for the driver and/or occupants of a white SUV that narrowly missed him that day.

Anyone with information who has yet to speak with a police officer, is asked to call FVTS in Chilliwack at 604-702-4039, citing file 2020-47970.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

mental health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near Chilliwack secondary

Third high-school related assault Rob Iezzi’s cameras have captured since beginning of 2021

Grace Kennedy Editorial Agassiz Harrison Observer image
EDITORIAL: With COVID-19, knowledge is power

Editor Grace Kennedy explains why the Observer is reporting on local case numbers, despite the flaws

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Most Read