Psychiatrist who treated Devon Freeman in Hamilton says teen’s suicidal thoughts seemed fleeting


Published October 5, 2022 at 2:22 pm

The Lynwood Charlton Centre group home in Hamilton. (The Canadian Press)

A psychiatrist is telling a coroner’s inquest in Hamilton that Indigenous teen Devon Freeman expressed “fleeting thoughts” of suicide when he was frustrated or angry, but these feelings didn’t appear to last.

Dr. Roberto Sassi was working at the child and youth mental health program at McMaster Children’s Hospital when he began giving regular outpatient treatment to Devon Freeman in the fall of 2014.

He says that while Freeman, who was 13 at the time, occasionally made statements related to suicide, he also appeared to dismiss them quickly and had plans for the future.

Sassi says the teen didn’t appear to have “ongoing hopelessness or helplessness or chronic or persistent suicidal thoughts,” and never reached the level where he needed to be hospitalized due to an imminent threat to his safety or that of others.

The inquest has heard Freeman went missing from the Lynwood Charlton Centre group home in the Flamborough area of Hamilton on Oct. 7, 2017. His body was found on the property more than six months later, in April 2018. An autopsy determined he died by hanging.

Jurors have also heard Freeman attempted suicide earlier in 2017 and had a history of suicidal thoughts and self-harm while in a residential program the previous year.

— The Canadian Press

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