Sydney woman says police didn't tell her about son's suicide attempt

Staff ~ The Cape Breton Post
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SYDNEY — Deborah Fong knew something was wrong when she went to wake her son for his morning paper route and he wasn't in the house.

"So I called the police station and they said he'd be in court later in the day," said Fong, who spent Friday at the Sydney Justice Centre but never saw her son.

She said her son, 22-year-old Cyrus Edward Kirton, called her Sunday afternoon to let her know he was at the Cape Breton Correctional Centre. He said he was never brought to the courthouse Friday because he was taken to hospital after an suicide attempt while in the central lock-up of the Cape Breton Regional Police.

"No one called me all weekend. They knew I was here waiting for him and no one ever told me he was in the hospital," she said.

"How could they not tell a parent? Don't they realize that this is someone's child who is loved?" said Fong, whose frustration, anger and worry spilled out in tears during an interview Monday at the justice centre.

Her son was charged early Friday morning after an incident on Champlain Avenue in Sydney. He is facing charges of prowling at night, assault, uttering a threat, theft (knives), break and enter, and breaching a court order.

He was charged after Cape Breton Regional Police were called to a home. They found the homeowner with a male near the home on the ground. Minor injuries were reported by the homeowner, resulting from an alleged bite to the hand by the accused.

Fong, of Sydney, is fully aware of her son's past indiscretions, which she attributes to several mental health issues that have never been properly dealt with given a lack of specialists in the province to treat adolescents.

"He can't help himself sometimes. He always has little hills to climb over and so much of this has gone unaddressed," said Fong.

There have been previous suicide attempts in the past and her son also cuts himself when he feels overwhelmed.

"He can't deal with stress. He has a lack of focus and gets frustrated easily," said Fong, adding she's not trying to explain his actions away but simply wants police and others to understand he is, at times, unable to fully care for himself.

Desiree Vassallo, spokeswoman for Cape Breton Regional Police, said Monday she was unable to talk about anything specific dealing with Kirton but did offer comment on police policy when it comes to notification.

She said unless an offender is a youth, there is no automatic call to a parent, spouse, partner or other loved one. She said if an offender is an adult, it is up to them to either call people or allow police to release information.

"It is always consent-based," said Vassallo.

Vassallo said she was also unable to confirm whether there was an attempted suicide inside the lock-up, adding there has been nothing to date that would trigger any internal reviews of practices and procedures in the lock-up section.

Fong said regardless of what her son has done, she will always love him and always stand by him. She only wishes that he'll be able to get the professional help he needs and deserves.

During a provincial court hearing late Monday afternoon, Kirton was denied bail and is scheduled back in court April 28.

Organizations: Sydney Justice Centre, Cape Breton Correctional Centre

Geographic location: Sydney, Champlain Avenue

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