Warning: This article contains discussions of suicide that may not be suitable for all readers.
The Canada Suicide Prevention Service enables callers anywhere in Canada to access crisis support in French or English at 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645.
Pamela Freeman hopes now that an inquest has been called into the suicide of her grandson she will finally learn why it took over six months before he was found hanging from a tree.
And just 35 metres from the back door of his group home.
“No one listened to me when I said my gut tells me he didn’t leave the property,” said Freeman, of her grandson, Devon Freeman, 16.
“I just need answers.”
She was right all along and now the events leading up to his death, and after, will be put under the microscope of an inquest after Devon’s body was found April 12, 2018 in a wooded area behind the Lynwood Charlton Centre’s Flamborough site in Hamilton, Ont.
Regional coroner Dr. Karen Schiff made the announcement Thursday after Freeman formally asked that an inquest be held Dec. 5, 2019.
When Devon’s body was found the investigating coroner ruled against an inquest, which are rare in deaths of children in care, opposed to sudden deaths of inmates in Ontario jails that get an automatic inquest.
Freeman also hopes it prevent similar deaths in the future.
“It doesn’t bring him back but if it helps someone else…,” she said before questioning why kids in care don’t get treated the same as inmates.
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One of the next steps is determining who will be part of the inquest, that will likely include the family, Lynwood, the province and Hamilton police, who supported the call for an inquest and will most certainly play a part as the investigating police in Devon’s disappearance
Lawyers for each will then determine the scope of the inquest.
All this means it will likely be several years before the inquest actually takes place.
Freeman first learned of the inquest last Friday when the coroner’s office called her lawyer, Justin Safayeni, and asked that the family keep it quiet until it was officially announced.
“I was pleasantly shocked,” said Freeman, of when she got the call from Safeyeni.
The announcement comes a day before the birthday of Freeman’s late daughter and Devon’s mom, Jaime Lynn Freeman, 28.
She was a “Valentine’s Day girl” and passed when Devon was six-years-old.
“I am trying to look at this in a good way, that she is with him,” Freeman told APTN News in late December.
(Pamela Freeman holds a photograph of her late grandson, Devon Freeman. Allana McDougall/APTN)
Devon received treatment from a psychiatrist and multiple mental health diagnoses including Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD as he got older. The outbursts associated with ODD were exceptionally challenging and of great concern for both Devon and Freeman herself, she said.
“He used to call it his volcanoes and he hated it. He would cry after, like just bawl,” said Freeman.
It only worsened as he became a teenager and Freeman struggled to care for Devon, who was a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation.
He ended up at Lynwood, a residential treatment centre operating in several different locations in Hamilton. Devon attempted to hang himself at Lynwood at least once, but Freeman said no one told her.
In June 2017, he became a Crown ward.
(Trya Williams-Dorey was at Lynwood Charlton Centre when she died by suicide in 2015. Submitted photo)
APTN learned of a second similar death about two years prior to Devon’s soon after Freeman’s call for an inquest was made in December.
Tyra Williams-Dorey was also at Lynwood and hanged herself in a different wooded area Mar. 2, 2015.
Williams-Dorey had told everyone she was planning to die that day. She had even drew a picture of it, yet her father still questions to this day how she was allowed to go to school alone.
“We had many conversations about that date,” said her father, Nygel Dorey.
“They told me they were on high alert, but they let her go to school alone. Then she left school alone.”
Dorey shared his family’s story hoping it would help Freeman get an inquest.
She is thankful for the support and wants everyone to know something.
“Devon didn’t have a long life but I want people to know he was loved. He was my Boo Bear,” she said.