Two dead in Quebec City: a direct effect of the COVID-19 pandemic?

By Sarah Corbin-Garant

2020 definitely had its negative recurring impacts on Halloween night in Quebec City. In fact, at around 10 p.m., 24-year-old Carl Girouard from Sainte-Thérèse walked the streets of Old Quebec and performed a terrible carnage. With a Japanese sword, he randomly selected his victims and sadistically managed to stab and kill two people while injuring five others. François Duchesne, a 56-year-old director of communications and marketing of the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec along with Suzanne Clermont, a 61-year-old hairdresser who was loved by many tragically passed away due to their injuries on that deadly night. The day following the attacks, the killer was faced with two murder charges and five attempts to murder charges for the victims whose lives were then out of danger.


The whole province woke up grieving and in utter shock as it is rare to see situations like these happen so close to home. Yes, Carl Girouard is evidently to blame, but what role did the current pandemic play in this tragedy?

It comes as no surprise that COVID-19 affected the mental health of many. From a feeling of loneliness to a complete isolation with no human contact, it has been gruesome for victims who already suffer from psychological problems. A recent poll made by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health located in Toronto suggested that 50% of Canadians reported worse symptoms than prior to the virus. The report projected an increase of suicides related to unemployment that could result between 418 and 2114 excess deaths. Last spring, polls made in Quebec alarmingly revealed how 12% of Quebeckers felt a problematic psychological distress, a 10% rise compared to usual times.


Experts think that the 24-year-old Halloween killer was probably in psychosis when committing his act. He had been previously diagnosed with mental illnesses and was actively followed by doctors. Carl Girouard had manifested his desire to hurt people. Old classmates of his recalled how he wanted to be referred to as “the warrior” and how shy and reserved he was.


In the light of this event, what should we, as a community, understand and remember? It is clear that the mental health system is in deep need of funds and that psychological health should become a bigger priority. Sixteen thousand individuals in the public network are still actively waiting to be taken care of. Fortunately, it is a decrease of 12,000 since 2018, but it is still not enough, especially when it comes to preventing deadly attacks like the one in Old Quebec.


So, what is there to do? First off, money is an essential need. The Quebec government announced a release of $100M towards the mental health system. It is a great start, but professionals warned that funding should become frequent for it to make an actual difference. By making the overall amount recurring, taking an example on the $25M deployed towards the same cause but for young people, it would be enough to “flatten the curve” and we would observe a significant positive impact on the population. This could not be pushed enough, but the key to happiness is asking for help. Whether you feel overwhelmed or are in a deep crisis, reach out to hotlines and rely on others. No one should suffer on their own, and professionals can truly be lifesavers.


*The Papercut wants to offer their deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of
the Old Quebec attack victims. Our deepest condolences.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

Your local CLSC, CISSS or CIUSSS: 811
AMI-QUEBEC: 514-486-1448
Canadian Mental Health Association: 514-5214993
Centre Interligne Inc. (for issues related to sexual orientations): 514-866-0103
Depressives Anonymous: 514-278-2130
Suicide Action Montréal: 1 866 277 3553
Suicide Prevention Service: 1 866 APPELLE
If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital
(Resources list provided by Montreal CTV News)

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