2019-03-27

In a heart-rending letter, a Bridgewater father challenges N.S. mental health system after his son’s death



  • <p>Submitted photo</p><p>Anthony Nauss</p>

Editor's note: This is the complete text of the letter that Bridgewater's Stephen Nauss sent to LighthouseNOW following the suicide of his son, and calling for changes to the provincial mental health system.

To Premier Stephen McNeil and all the MLA's of the province of Nova Scotia.

This is my son Anthony. He was a smart hardworking, full of life individual who had a huge heart and would go out of his way to help someone in need, not just friends but strangers as well. He had a bigger than life attitude and tried to live and love life to the fullest.

After finishing high school early in 2016 he moved to Dartmouth where he worked at Starbucks and was recently promoted to shift supervisor. He successfully completed the American Sign Language course at NSCC in 2017 and he was currently studying to be a paralegal at Eastern College and would have completed the course in April. Unfortunately with all that going for him he suffered from mental illness and took his own life on Nov 3, 2018 at the age of 20.

A week earlier he was feeling suicidal and was once again sent home from the ER being told he would be okay and to make an appointment with Mental Health, which was booking into January, three months later. My son didn't have three months to wait and should have been helped then but instead he was sent home to die and that's exactly what happened a week later.

Feeling suicidal and knowing that it was no use to go to the hospital again he instead went home alone after work and hung himself in his bedroom, and I'm wondering why no one is being held accountable for that, who made the decision to send him home? If he would have went to the ER having a heart attack they would have kept him there and treated him until he was better, not sent him home to die. This makes no sense to me at all.

NSHA CEO Janet Knox said in her letter posted on the NSHA website March 8, 2019 at 2:06 pm "Trust in providers is essential to care of mental illness" Anthony put his trust into the "providers" and that didn't work out so well did it?

She also said "The suggestion that every day people seeking help are being sent away from hospitals and told to make their own decisions is not only false- it is dangerous."

Well I'm sorry Janet Knox but it is very true, my son was sent home on several occasions and the only thing dangerous about this is that it's true.

Minister of Health and Wellness Randy Delorey on March 12, 2019 said that MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin's statement regarding not enough beds or psychiatrists was "categorically false." Mr Delorey I hope none of your loved ones ever have to go to the ER for help with mental health issues and have to endure what my son had to.

Back in 2016 I was there when he was brought to the ER after trying to overdose and he spent two nights at the hospital, the first night to get the pills out of his system and keep him alive, the second night to keep an eye on him. Then he was sent home the next morning. More recently after moving to Dartmouth to attend school I've learned from his friends of several occasions where he would be sent home in the morning to fend for himself instead of being admitted and getting the help so badly needed and wanted. Don't say there isn't a problem when there clearly is one.

My son fell through the cracks of a failed mental health care system. This province is in a crisis not only with mental health but health care in general. It's time for all of you to step up and do something about this instead of denying there is a problem, talking in circles and not accomplishing anything. Stop wasting the taxpayers money and put it where it needs to be and start working on a solution to fix this problem for the people you were elected to represent.

Writing this letter has reopened the wounds that haven't even had chance to heal yet but it is something I felt I had to do. Anthony wanted changes made to the system so let's get it done so no one else has to die.

Since losing Anthony my life has changed forever. I can't bring my son back but rest assured I will try and do everything I can to make sure another parent doesn't have to go through the pain and heartache that I have to live with every day.

Sincerely,

Stephen Nauss

Anthony's Dad

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