Current Problems

Suicide Prevention

This mom took her 14-year-old daughter off life support. She says her suicide was preventable

May 6, 2024
A young girl holds a fishing pole on a dock.
Darcel Lidd, seen here during a photography project that involved the CBC, loved her siblings and family, her mother said. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

WARNING: This story contains disturbing content and details of suicide

CBC News: Darcel Lidd didn’t want to die. Her mother says she is certain of that.

What she wanted, says Miriam Lidd, was help. The scars on her arms — too numerous to count and in various stages of healing — spoke for themselves.

On April 27, Lidd took her 14-year-old daughter, Darcel, off life support at the Janeway children’s hospital in St. John’s. She and her family had no other choice.

The week before, the middle schooler from Nain, on Labrador’s northern coast, attempted suicide — again. Except this time, there would be no more trips back and forth from counselling or to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the regional hub in Labrador, where her mother would beg for help.

“Darcel was really quiet, but for her, she was really loud. When you see her, and if you seen my daughter, you would say I can hear her, even in her smile,” Lidd said in a recent interview.

“Even her smile was crying out for help.”

Lidd, whose daughter’s story made its way to the floor of the House of Assembly, said she is compelled to speak because Darcel’s death was predictable and preventable.

A young girl is wearing a slight smile. She has deep dimples.
Darcel Lidd, 14, died on April 27 at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John’s. (Labrador in Focus/CBC)

Darcel Lidd was intelligent, musical and poetic. She was in the process of teaching herself six different languages at the time of her death, having already taught herself guitar and piano. 

Miriam Lidd said her daughter went through a traumatic event two years ago and made her first suicide attempt six months after that.

“We did go to the clinic [in Nain]. Darcel wasn’t sent out because one of the questions the nurses and the doctor on the video conference was, ‘Do you feel OK to go home, Darcel? Do you feel like you’re going to hurt yourself?'” Lidd said.

“And Darcel said no, so we were sent home.”

Lidd said no one asked her or her daughter if she required counselling or followup help. 

After the second attempt, Lidd said her daughter was sent to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, where she received counselling before flying back to Nain.

Friend helped secure inpatient programming

She continued to see a counsellor every two weeks in her home community, and was only treated as an inpatient once for a very short period of time, her mother said. 

But after each attempt — and there were many — Darcel Lidd would say she didn’t want to die, Miriam Lidd said. 

“If the cuts on her arms weren’t enough for them to know that my daughter was screaming out for help and she couldn’t use her voice … she was using her arms and everything else,” Lidd said.

“And she would show them. She would have a T-shirt on. Her way of screaming out for help was not through her voice, it was showing on her body.”

A group of people stand outside, side by side, in front of a building a chain-link fence.
Darcel Lidd, second from the left, was close with her large family, in Nain and Natuashish. (Submitted by Miriam Lidd)

Lidd said her daughter was never given a diagnosis or long-term treatment plan. Frustrated, she contacted a family connections worker whom she had a trusted relationship with to see if he could help.

Within several days, he found inpatient programming outside of the province for Darcel and the family, Lidd said. 

Unfortunately, they never made it in time. 

“I did have time with my daughter by myself [while she was on life support] and told her, you know, we almost made it.”

‘People are dying, children are dying’

The suicide rate in Labrador is higher than that of the rest of Newfoundand and the country. A 2016 study concluded that suicide disproportionately affects Innu and Inuit populations and rates were particularly high among male youths and Inuit females.

The number of suicides in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region more than doubled from 2020 to 2021, according to data from Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical examiner.

While 2021’s provincial suicide rate was fewer than 16 people per 100,000 — compared with a national rate of just under 13 people per 100,000 — it was more than 51 per 100,000 in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region.

“In my district, people are being refused access to timely and adequate mental health care — not just adults but children are being failed as well,” Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans said in the House of Assembly on April 23.

A mom had to take her child off life support. Now, she is vowing to be her voice

WATCH | She watched her daughter’s mental health decline, but says no one stopped the inevitable:, 4 days ago, Duration 7:41

Miriam Lidd of Nain is speaking publicly about the mental health struggles and suicide of her 14-year-old Darcel and what she calls blatant failures in the health-care system which led to her death. Warning: this story contains discussion of suicide.

Click on the following link to view the video:

“Last week, I asked the minister, does it take someone dying before people in my district can access mental health care? Now I have a 14-year-old child on life support and her mother tells me that this child has been failed by the mental health care system.”

Mental health resources — or a lack thereof — on Labrador’s north coast is a common refrain from Evans when she stands in the House of Assembly.

“Are there enough services in place? Absolutely not,” responded Tom Osborne, minister of health and community services. “But to say that the services that are in place are not helping is a little unfair as well.”

Evans hammered on the topic throughout several days when the legislature was in session, questioning the minister about the services that are available. 

“People are dying, children are dying. People are dying at their own hands,” she said. 

Osborne repeated his own common refrain: the entire country is short on health-care workers. The department is committed to providing services and is working on recruitment efforts. 

Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services did not make a representative available for an interview, but in a statement said it is “deeply saddened” to hear of the family’s case.

The Labrador-Grenfell Zone provides a myriad of mental health services, a spokesperson wrote in an email, including assessment and referral to treatment programs, crisis intervention and followup. 

“Within rural areas across the Labrador-Grenfell Zone, our mental health and addictions staff consult with physicians and other health professionals in the circle of care to recommend a treatment plan,” said the statement attributed to the health authority.

“Staff are available either in person or virtually to each community with the ability to consult with mental health and addictions managers, physicians, and/or psychiatrists.”

Miriam Lidd said none of that prevented her daughter’s death. She’s resolved to continue advocating, even if it is too late for Darcel. 

“She wasn’t using her voice, and I was her voice, and I now won’t stop until something’s done with mental health.”

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Ariana Kelland, Investigative reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John’s. She is working as a member of CBC’s Atlantic Investigative Unit. Email: