WARNING: This story discusses suicide and may be triggering to some readers.
In the weeks before Vancouver police Const. Nicole Chan died by suicide, she detailed her anguish that a senior officer had “taken advantage” of her in an “imbalance of power” while she was severely depressed.
“If I brought this incident upon myself, I would be accountable for everything that happened. But, I was sick and taken advantage of by a senior officer handling my file,” Chan wrote in a victim impact statement about Sgt. David Van Patten, dated Jan. 7, 2019.
The statement was released Tuesday on the second day of a coroner’s inquest into Chan’s death.
Her sister, Jennifer Chan, told the inquest Monday that Nicole Chan was sexually assaulted and extorted by Van Patten.
In her victim impact statement, which remains unsigned, Chan said she was already suffering from mental health challenges, but the incident aggravated her condition, stalled her career and affected her ability to maintain relationships.
“This incident has changed who I am as a person,” the statement said. “I was betrayed, coerced and taken advantage of by somebody whom I respected and looked up to.”
She wrote that she hoped it was clear “that Dave is not someone who should have the privilege of continuing as a police officer.”
“I am only one person, but this has ruined my personal and professional life. Please help me be a survivor and not another victim. I am suffering but I still have the will to fight for this.”
She concluded her statement with a plea to “help me get some justice.”
“They say the world is not fair, but as officers, isn’t justice what we fight for?”
Chan died by suicide three weeks later on Jan. 27, 2019.
Sgt. Cindy Vance, a former VPD human resources officer, told the coroner’s inquest Tuesday that Chan had a history of mental health issues and potential suicide attempts before inappropriate relationships with two senior officers, including Van Patten.
Vance said she had put together a timeline of Chan’s HR complaints. During her hiring process, Chan disclosed that she had consumed 30 to 40 Tylenol in 2006, when she was 17 years old, Vance said.
Vance also testified about a 2012 car crash in Port Moody, B.C., that “triggered a concern that Ms. Chan might be suicidal.” It resulted in her being arrested and brought to a hospital under the Mental Health Act, Vance said.
She was also asked about another incident where Chan was identified as a potential missing person, and was later found at a Washington motel. Vance said Chan’s HR file indicates she went on sick leave two days after being located.
— By Brieanna Charlebois in Vancouver
The Canadian Press
If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.
Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.
Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance use.