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Inquest called into suicide of psychiatric patient

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An inquest has been called into the April 2012 death of a 68-year-old psychiatric patient who hanged himself at the Health Sciences Centre.

In a release today, the province’s Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Thambirajah Balachandra, said James Livingston was initially brought to the HSC ER by ambulance March 21, 2012 after he had called 911 and told the dispatcher he was going to have a cardiac arrest.

When paramedics arrived, Livingston denied having chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness.

The next day following further assessment in the ER, Livingston was admitted with a diagnosis of organic brain syndrome. His behaviour over the next few days became more agitated and manic and he began refusing medication and treatment, Balachandra said.

On March 27, 2012, Livingston was seen by a psychiatrist and the next day his status was changed to involuntary admission under the mental health act.

During his stay in hospital, Livingston was treated for multiple medical problems and was also diagnosed with dementia.

On April 18, 2012, his status as an involuntary patient was renewed under the mental health act. Because of a concern Livingston was not able to manage his own affairs, his physician applied to the chief provincial psychiatrist for an order of committeeship, which would allow the public trustee of Manitoba to assist Livingston. The order was to be issued April 23, 2012.

On April 15, 2012, Livingston was observed on a video monitor placing a belt around his neck and then entering the bathroom in his room. The belt, as well as a chair, was removed by medical staff.

However, on April 19, 2012, when a nurse attempted to enter his room she pushed the door against resistance and found Mr. Livingston on the floor with a belt around his neck. A "code blue" was called. Resuscitation was unsuccessful and Livingston was declared dead.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Winnipeg Police Service were notified of the death April 20, 2012. The cause of death was confirmed as hanging. The manner of death was suicide.

The inquest was called because Livingston had been detained under the mental Health Act and to explore whether his death was the result of an act or omission.

A date for the inquest has yet to be determined.

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