Ashley Smith Inquiry Hears She Choked Herself Because It ‘Felt Good’

The inquest into the death of a troubled teenager, Ashley Smith, heard on Monday that she was fond of choking herself because it felt good and alleviated boredom. A psychologist, Cindy Presse, explained in her testimony that self-strangulation can be auto-erotic, although Smith didn’t do it for that reason. Presse informed that “she was quick to say, ‘It’s not sexual, Cindy’,” but in fact, “she said it just made her feel good.”

Presse worked as a chief psychologist at the Regional Psychiatric Centre in Saskatoon, at the time when Smith was transferred to psychiatric prison at the age of 18 at the time of Dec. 20, 2006, from another facility in Nova Scotia. Presse revealed that she allowed the inmate to make a call home and provided her with some magazines. However, she began depicting the usual acting-out behaviour within hours, which had previously driven staff at other prisons to distraction. Presse explained that Smith covered her segregation-cell camera and window with pages from the magazine. She also dismantled the sprinkler head. Presse stated that “a little TLC didn’t go very far in controlling her behavior.”

The psychologist explained to the commission in complete detail about the distinction between “parasuicidal” or self-harming behaviour and suicidal behaviour. Presse alleged that it is vital to make sure that parasuicidals don’t actually kill themselves in their quest for a more intense sensation, quite similar to a situation like drug addicts that take increasingly powerful doses. She explained that “you’ve got to keep the patient safe, but you don’t really want the big commotion.”

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