A man whose wife was involved in a workplace accident at the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) mine in Labrador City says there aren’t sufficient mental health services for people in Labrador West.
“From the time of the accident to the hospital, she needed help,” Blair Luther told the CBC.
“She never got over it.”
Last week, Health Minister John Haggie said five suicides in western Labrador have links to the IOC mine in the area.
Back in June, Luther said his wife was involved in a potentially-fatal workplace accident in which a haul truck she was driving crushed a pickup.
Luther said his wife Lisa has struggled since the accident.
‘It’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, I’m fine’, but are you really fine?’ - Blair Luther
“Every single time there’s been an incident she takes 10 steps back, so I can only imagine, she don’t talk to me about everything,” Luther said.
“It worries me, when things like that happen, how much it affects her … I wonder, was she headed down the same road, right?”
Luther’s wife didn’t wish to speak to CBC directly about the accident or her struggle, preferring to let Luther speak on her behalf.
“The fact that she could’ve took that man’s life, to this day she still has nightmares about it. It’s ruined our family … it’s been a really hard time,” Luther said.
“To her, she killed him, and even though he exists today and she sees him around town and everything, to her she thinks of what it could have been.”
Nowhere to turn
Luther said the 1-800 mental health phone number IOC provides, which connects to Vancouver-based Homewood Human Solutions for people to get help, isn’t adequate for the level of care for Lisa.
“For other people maybe it’s enough, maybe they just need someone to talk to, maybe the counselling is fine,” Luther said.
“But for the level that she needed, after what they call a potentially fatal incident, where she almost ran over a coworker, to this day, she’s never recovered.”
‘If we’re only one family that’s been affected by one incident, how many people here do need help?’ - Blair Luther
Luther said his wife is a “people pleaser” and eventually returned to work, but adds she should never have gone back as soon as she did.
“One night it was bad and the next night it was worse and then something happened on the last night and she called me and that was it,” Luther said.
“I called in to work about 4:30 that morning said I wouldn’t be in. She came home, it was the worst I ever seen her.”
Because of the way his wife was acting, Luther said he could not leave her alone.
According to Luther, the local health centre couldn’t help them immediately.
“They didn’t have the resources at the time and she was put on a waiting list, there was no help for her,” Luther said,
“I had to do something and we left.”
Luther packed their bags and they drove all the way to Deer Lake, in western Newfoundland, where his wife saw a registered psychologist.
“She’s got the most amazing person who I figure saved her life,” Luther said.
“If only she could’ve got that right away, maybe it would’ve been a lot better, maybe it wouldn’t have changed [anything] but I feel like we need those people here. We need people in Lab West to help deal with those situations.”
Luther said his wife has not returned to work and for now, they are taking things one day at a time.
His wife is now seeing a counsellor at the health centre in Labrador City and she still travels to the island to see her psychologist — at their own expense.
“It’s been a total roller coaster,” Luther said.
“Some days it feels like a lot of progress is being made and other days it seems like it don’t seem anything’s changed.”
Luther said it’s important for him to tell the story to let people know more mental health resources are needed in Labrador West.
“If we’re only one family that’s been affected by one incident, how many people here do need help?” Luther said.
“We do need the resources here in Lab West … it’s easy to say, ‘Yeah, I’m fine’, but are you really fine? You need to see someone who can really find out if you’re fine or not.”