Family of Samwel Uko seek timely inquiry from SHA
REGINA -- Family members of Samwel Uko are calling for the inquest into his death to be held sooner than later as they continue to seek answers.
Uko died on May 21 after he was twice turned away from the Regina General Hospital for seeking mental health care.
Rescue crews recovered Uko’s body from Wascana Lake, and his family believe his death to be the result of suicide.
The province has confirmed there will be an inquest into Uko’s death, but has not announced the dates. Justin Nyee, Uko’s uncle, said he’s been told the inquest will take place during the summer or fall of 2021.
He said that’s not quick enough.
“We need to know exactly what happened, how did it happen and how is the hospital dealing with all this stuff?” Nyee said. “It’s just going to be dragging on and on for the family. We really need answers, and we need it now.”
Nyee said the province should be stepping up to sign a suicide prevention bill as it continues to be an issue in Saskatchewan. He said an inquiry would present cases like Samwel’s to the public to raise awareness of the problems that exist in the system.
“It shouldn’t be a hard thing to do, that should be a first step,” Nyee said. “Everyone should come together to deal with this, progress it.”
According to the Saskatchewan NDP, 144 people die in the province each year by suicide.
“We cannot continue in this way in Saskatchewan. We’re losing too many of our young people,” NDP leader Ryan Meili said.
Meili said a public inquiry would help create a plan in the province that saves lives.
“We need to have actions taken to identify the root causes of who’s more likely to commit suicide in our province, and work to make sure that people have hope,” Meili said. “We [need to] have early identification when people are struggling so they get the right kind of help before they’re in a crisis. And so that we have the dedicated services available so that when someone’s in a crisis, they go into a place where they’ll get help and not get sent away.”
The Minister of Health Jim Reiter reiterated his apology and said officials met with Uko’s parents, in an email to media on Monday.
“One of the most significant things a government can do in this regard is resources. We significantly increased resources over the past two years in mental health and addictions, to the point now where significantly more than $400 million per year is in mental health and addictions.”