'His smile would light up a room': Inquest underway in suicide of boy, 13
REGINA -- A public inquest into the suicide of a 13-year-old boy is underway in Regina.
Kaleab Schmidt was found unresponsive on his family farm on April 30, 2018.
When Schmidt was found on the property near Regina, emergency medical services were called and CPR was performed, but the teen was pronounced deceased on scene.
The purpose of the inquest, conducted by Saskatchewan Coroners Service is to establish who died, when, and where they died as well as the medical cause and manner of death.
Sandra Barker-Schmidt, Kaleab’s mother, was the first witness to take the stand at the inquest on Monday morning.
She confirmed her son died by suicide.
Barker-Schmidt said she and her husband adopted Kaleab and his two younger sisters from Ethipoia when he was seven.
She described her son as charming, handsome and intelligent, saying “his smile would light up a room.”
She said he attended Greenall High School in Balgonie, and said he experienced bullying and racism from other students.
She said he was called the N-word at least three times. At first, he was able to brush it off. But as it continued, she said Kaleab reacted physically, and punched the bully in the face.
Barker-Schmidt said he was suspended for becoming physical. When he returned to school, the racial slur was used again, and Kaleab again reacted physically, knocking out some teeth of the student who was allegedly bullying him. Kaleab was suspended again.
Barker-Schmidt said told the school about the use racial slurs against her son. She said they told her racism was not tolerated, but she doesn’t know if the staff took any action.
She said Kaleab was charged with assault causing bodily harm after that suspension. She said RCMP officers came to their farm on Sunday, April 29.
She said the following day, he took his own life.
Kaleab’s mother said he talked about suicide prior to the day he took his own life, and said he sometimes lashed out in the home.
His parents sought help from psychologists for his mental health. She said they also reached out to friends, RCMP and social services over the years for support.
Barker-Schmidt said this inquest is important to find justice for Kaleab. She hopes it prevents this situation from happening to any other child in the future, so no other family has to endure what theirs has gone through, and continues to go through.
The public inquest is expected to take at least seven business days, as approximately 27 witnesses are expected to testify.