10-year-old takes own life
When a child commits the irreparable, it is society that has failed
AnnSofy, or Alex, possessed a joie de vivre that had been gradually fading for some time, according to Annick Dinel, her mother. This child, who wished to be identified as Alex (non-gendered), took her own life on March 9, at the age of 10.
In addition to the unspeakable pain experienced by her loved ones, this sad event highlights several important social realities, such as bullying, the effect of the pandemic on mental health, as well as the difficulty of acceptance when discussing gender and identity.
Alex just wanted to be Alex, according to her parents. Was it a male or female Alex? No one knew and the child, who was still at the very beginning of a journey that weighs on many, might have identified as non-binary as she grew up.
Her intense struggle with self-discovery was manifested in what she said (she had difficulty identifying her sexual orientation and gender) and in her appearance, preferring a short haircut and making her own clothing choices.
These courageous acts of self-expression led to Alex being bullied, an almost inevitable scourge of childhood and adolescence that people who are even slightly different are often victims of. Add to that an identity in question and the pandemic context and few of us can truly understand the pain Alex experienced.
Although there was a team of specialists supporting Alex, Annick Dinel denounced the lack of mental health help and resources in Quebec, specifically in the field of education.
Let's remember that there are currently 20,000 people waiting for a public mental health follow-up in Quebec with delays that can go up to 24 months.
Ms Dinel's motivation? Her other children, including her three-year-old daughter and her eventual entry into the school system. Mr Bastien, Alex's father, had permanent custody and did not comment publicly, except through his brother in an interview he gave to TVA Ottawa-Gatineau.
Mr Bastien is described as a wonderful father, loving, attentive and ready to do anything for his loved ones. A vigil in memory of Alex/AnnSofy was held on March 16 in Ms Dinel's neighbourhood on Laflamme Street in Gatineau.
Lines of citizens marched in front of the house of Ms Dinel and her children and were able to place candles, lanterns, stuffed animals and balloons.
The Minister of Family and Minister Responsible for the Outaouais, Mathieu Lacombe, made this comment via Twitter: "Since reading this news, I can't stop thinking about this little girl, her parents, her loved ones... My heart is completely broken. One thing is for sure: we will do everything we can to fight bullying and improve access to services.
Are you experiencing difficulties? Are you or someone you know having a hard time? It's important to talk about it. You can reach the Quebec suicide prevention line at 1-800-APPELLE, the Info sociale line (questions about mental health) at +811, the Tel-Jeune organization, at 1-800-263-2266 (chat also available), as well as the specialists at Jeunesse Idem, a local organization, at 819-776-1445.
Photo credit: Sonia Roy
Photo caption: The Annsofy/Alex memorial vigil on March 16, 2022, on Laflamme Street in Gatineau.