Death of man on Hamilton mall roof sparks inquest


Published December 13, 2023 at 4:16 pm

Attila Csanyi was found dead on top of Jackson Square in 2020. After years of efforts, the Ontario government has launched an inquest into the systemic failures behind his death.

The death of a man on the roof of a Hamilton mall has sparked an inquest from the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

Attila Csanyi, 28, went missing in 2020. He was found dead on the roof of the Jackson Square mall weeks later on May 2. It took nearly a month to identify the remains as Csanyi.

Shortly after his death, Csanyi’s twin brother Richard and friend and filmmaker Stephen Hosier worked on a documentary about Attila’s death. The film premiered on Oct. 10, World Mental Health Day, and explored Csanyi’s traumatic childhood in foster care, the opioid crisis and struggles with getting mental health support.

In a GoFundMe set up to honour Attila by donating to charity Richard wrote, “It is assumed that ‘drug overdose’ or ‘transient lifestyle’ is the reason he left this world so early. However, that is not the case. There has been a chain of events, neglect, years of pain and suffering and a broken system that was unable to protect Attila that has ultimately released him from this world.”

Richard had worked hard to get Attila help as his brother’s mental health fell apart, finally getting Attila a schizophrenia diagnosis. However, even with the diagnosis, Richard struggled to get Attila housing. The documentary Attila opened to rave reviews for its human, touching, examination of the systemic failures that led to Attila’s death.

According to the GoFundMe, Attila lost his home at Sampaguita Lodge, a residential care facility at 265 Bay St. “There is a direct correlation between having a place to call home and mental health and without the resources he once had available to him his life was spiralling out of control, during a pandemic when help was already scarce.”

After the film’s release, Richard wrote on Twitter, “It is dangerous when we learn to accept homelessness, addiction and mental health as a problem that cannot be solved. People are dying every day and families are broken. If we don’t ask why, nothing is ever going to change.”

“It is too late for Attila. I lost the best part of me when he died. But I still have hope that through this film his legacy will live on,” he continued, “A legacy of a child that put himself in harm’s way to protect me in foster care, a legacy of a teenage baseball phenom on the mound and the legacy of a man hopelessly living on the streets with schizophrenia waiting to be saved.

Two months after the Attila premiere, the Ontario government announced an inquest into the circumstances of his death. After the inquest, the jury may recommend how to make the changes needed to save others from meeting Attila’s fate.

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