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Christie Blatchford: Ashley Smith’s belief that ‘death is the only way out’ not the true lunacy of her case


Ashley Smith, seen in an undated family photo, told a prison psychologist the day before she died that she had “lost hope of ever getting out of prison and believes that death is the only way out.”The lunacy of what happened to teenager Ashley Smith is sometimes so staggering that even now, in month three of the Ontario coroner’s inquest probing her death, it utterly beggars belief.

On Oct. 18, 2007, the day before Ashley asphyxiated in her isolation cell, the teenager told a prison psychologist she had “lost hope of ever getting out of prison and believes that death is the only way out.”

The comments are found in the notes of Dr. Cynthia Lanigan, a psychologist at Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institution for Women, the final stop on Ashley’s grand tour of federal prisons and hospitals.

But this is not where the madness lies: Dr. Lanigan recommended the 19-year-old be constantly monitored and noted she remained “a high risk for suicide.”

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