The Death of: Patrick Norman Redhead — (Report By Provincial Judge on Inquest)

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Manitoba Report By Provincial Judge on Inquest Respecting the Death of: Patrick Norman Redhead

RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2003


Having held an inquest respecting the said death on May 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, 23rd,

24th, 25th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st, June 1st, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 2001 and January 7th, 8th, 9th,

10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 28th, 29th 30th, and 31st 2002 at the City of Winnipeg

in Manitoba, I report as follows:

The name of the deceased is: PATRICK NORMAN REDHEAD

The deceased came to his death on the 26th day of August 1999 between 3:30 p.m. and

4:30 p.m. near the Village of Dugald in the Province of Manitoba.

The deceased came to his death by the following means:

Suicide by hanging.

I hereby make the recommendations as set out in the attached report


Patrick Redhead was born on March 24, 1984. He was only 15 years old when he took his own life on August 26, 1999. Chaos, dysfunction, abuse and instability marked his short life. Patrick was likely damaged before his birth, due to his mother’s consumption of alcohol. In his early childhood he was not given the kind of family supports and nurturing that every child requires and is entitled to. His mother was and is a chronic alcoholic who was abusive and incapable of caring for any of her children for any extended period of time. By the time Patrick became a permanent ward of Thompson Region Child and Family Services in 1996 when he was 12 years old, he was a very damaged child who had a myriad of problems and issues and a pervasive rage that made him a very difficult child to deal with.

He could be aggressive and violent to his caregivers and to other children he came into contact with. He was self-destructive and impulsive. In his later years he frequently expressed suicidal thoughts. He ran away from his placements on numerous occasions and lived on the street for periods of time. He abused alcohol and drugs. At times he was involved with street gangs. He committed criminal offences. He was volatile and flew into rages with no or minimal provocation. This made him a very difficult child to place. Many of his placements broke down because of these behaviours.

But this was not the only picture of Patrick Redhead that emerged at this inquest.

Patrick was also at times a pleasant, loving, funny, engaging and likable child. He could be a good and hard worker. He was a generous person. He was a very talented artist. An example of his artwork is included at the end of this report. He could be a good kid. He was described as being a neat kid, creative and sometimes insightful. It is important in detailing the life and death of Patrick Redhead and in recounting the various difficulties that were encountered in providing appropriate care for him that we do not lose sight of this other Patrick. The real tragedy is that this Patrick’s potential will never be realized…


In order to attempt to understand the events of August 26th, 1999 and the root causes of Patrick’s suicide, it is necessary to examine in some detail the chronology of events in his life. Little is known about Patrick’s life in his early childhood, aside from his later disclosures of physical and sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment. However, from the time he was about seven years old there are numerous reports from his schools, psychological assessments and family services agency files which provide some insight into his world.

In the last two years of Patrick’s life, he spent many months in residential care facilities and youth  correctional institutions where daily records were kept, detailing his behaviour. As a result a great deal of information is known about his life during that time…

  • May 26, 1998 – Patrick is sentenced by Judge Brian Colli in Thompson Youth Court on charges of assault, theft and breach of a court disposition. The breach relates to not attending for an AFM addiction assessment as directed by his Probation Officer. He receives a sentence of eight months secure custody, followed by one year of supervised probation.
  • May 29, 1998 – January 25, 1999 – Patrick is in custody serving his sentence at Agassiz Youth Centre in Portage la Prairie.
  • July 5, 1999 – Patrick sees Dr. Skinner at Agassiz. They speak at some length about the severe and pervasive feelings of depression, anger and rejection that he is harbouring. Patrick indicates that he has felt sad, angry and hopeless for several months. He experiences insomnia and episodes in which he feels that voices are calling his name. He also has other episodes of confused thinking in which he is concerned that he will “lose it”. He described pessimism with regard to the future and comparative indifference to the prospect of being released from custody. Dr. Skinner is of the view that low-dose anti-psychotic medication and an antidepressant might help Patrick, in view of the level of distress he has experienced, his sadness, his pessimism and sensory distortions. Dr. Skinner prescribes paroxetine HCL 20 mg (1 pill once a day) and risperidone 0.5 mg (one pill twice a day). Dr. Skinner notes that his affect is sad and weepy, but concludes that he is not homicidal or actively suicidal and that there are no acute concerns about Patrick’s mental status.
  • July 13, 1999 – Patrick sees Dr. Skinner. He indicates that he does not wish to die but he has a number of concerns, including dreams with violent content and uncertainty about the future. Dr. Skinner reports that Patrick spoke in more detail about his feelings related to some aspects of his history and the self-destructive ideation that he has experienced on an intermittent basis.
  • Thursday, August 26, 1999 – Patrick commits suicide by hanging himself, in the barn at his foster parents’ place…