Suicide blamed on VLT addiction

The mother of a Calgary man who jumped from the 12th floor of a downtown apartment tower in July blames his death on an addiction to video lottery terminals.

On the day he died, Wesley Robert Larratt, 27, gambled away more than $600. And his mother, Donna Brazeau of Sorrento, B.C., estimates her son lost nearly $5,000 in the last six weeks of his life.

Brazeau wants people to know what gambling addictions can do.

"I just feel the public needs to be more aware about this sort of stuff," she said.

VLTs arrived in Alberta in 1993. Several towns in the province have recently held plebiscites to remove the machines since the government placed 5,600 in bars and hotels four years ago.

A 1994 provincial study found 125,000 problem gamblers in Alberta - about five per cent of the population.

Larratt's girlfriend, Karry Chmilar, said he never talked of killing himself before his involvement with VLTs. Nor did he have a previous record of money troubles.