SALT LAKE CITY — More than a year after a 17-year-old girl from Bermuda took her own life at a Utah treatment center for teens, her parents are suing the West Jordan facility.
Johnita and Travis Simons say their daughter should not have been left alone after attempting suicide twice in two weeks at West Ridge Academy.
The center could not provide the appropriate level of care for someone with severe depression but didn't tell the parents that or update them on their daughter Kirsta's condition, they contend.
West Ridge has denied wrongdoing in court documents.
Kirsta's parents contend the center's protocol required employees to accompany any youths on suicide watch on trips to the bathroom and check in by speaking with them frequently.
But on Nov. 14, 2019, Kirsta was alone while two employees were in a neighboring common area, states the lawsuit filed last month in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court.
When an employee told her shower time was up, she said she needed to use the bathroom, the suit says. When he called for her again, she didn't respond and another student went to check on her and found her.
She was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance and succumbed to her injuries the following day.
Her parents are suing the center and several of its mental health employees for negligence and wrongful death, and emotional distress.They're seeking unspecified damages, including a punitive award.
The treatment center denies wrongdoing. While it agrees that Kirsta "exhibited self-harm behaviors," it has appropriate protocols to monitor those who do, attorneys for the facility wrote in court filings.
The center also reports the girl was allowed privacy during her shower time, but denied allegations of negligence.
Attorneys representing West Ridge Academy wrote that the girl did not want to be in contact with her biological mother and states that her biological father participated in one therapy session with Kirsta "and then demanded that he not be contacted again."
The girl was in the custody of the Bermuda Division of Child and Family Services prior to her arrival at the center, and her parents didn't consent to her admission there, their lawsuit says. It doesn't specify how she ended up in Utah.
A hearing in the case has not yet been set.
Resources for Suicide Prevention
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
- Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- Emotional Health Relief Hotline 1-833-442-2211
- Utah County Crisis Line: 801-691-5433
- Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386