Louisiana Casino Death Shows Lack of Resources for Struggling Teenagers

Posted on: October 11, 2022, 01:55h. 

Last updated on: October 11, 2022, 02:19h.

Relatives have disclosed the teenager found deceased last week at Louisiana’s Paragon Casino Resort had been struggling with drugs and mental health issues. But officials have yet to release a formal cause of death.

Giah Barrere
Giah Barrere, pictured above. She passed away last week. She was found at a Louisiana casino. (Image: Avoyelles Today)

It troubles the family because Giah Barrere, 17, was unable to get assistance for her personal issues because of a lack of juvenile resource centers in central Louisiana, KALB, a local TV station, reported.

Her body was discovered at the Marksville, La. gaming property on Oct. 3. An initial exam revealed the girl was not stabbed nor shot by a gun, KALB said. More tests will be undertaken.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Donna Barrere, Giah’s mother, was quoted by KALB. “I don’t want anyone else’s parents to go through what I’m going through.”

She directed her comments at the limited resources for juveniles. In just a few months, her daughter would have turned 18 and would be considered an adult. That is the age group when more resources are available to those needing assistance.

“The juvenile system keeps telling us that our hands are tied,” Donna Barrere added. “Someone needs to untie them. Something needs to be done to help these kids. It’s not fair for me to have to bury my 17-year-old because I couldn’t get the help I needed.”

Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle agreed more resources are needed to help teenagers. “We’ve seen them commit suicide. We’ve seen them overdose. And we’ve seen them go to violent crime,” Riddle told KALB about support services for teens. “It’s a problem.”

There are no rehabilitation centers nearby, he added. The Acadiana Juvenile Detention Center is relatively close. But that center is for violent teens, Riddle said.

Proposed Resource Center Not Yet Funded

A proposal, to build a center to help teens before they find themselves getting sentenced, is currently before the Louisiana legislature. The 32-bed facility was proposed for Pollock in Grant Parish.

Louisiana’s Paragon Casino Resort
Louisiana’s Paragon Casino Resort, pictured above. A dead teen was found at the property. (Image: Paragon Casino Resort)

It would help those teens who are struggling with drug addiction or emotional issues, officials explained. As proposed, the patients would get counseling during a one- or two-month stay. They could also continue attending school while in the center.

So far, $1 million was approved for its construction. It should get full funding by next October, Riddle said.

Pre-adjudication is a very difficult placement,” Riddle explained. “It would help them. They could continue their school. They could receive counseling while they are being held, and hopefully, it’s a short-term thing that’s 30-60 days at the most.”

Also, Riddle warned more needs to be done, too, for juveniles needing three, six or 12 months of support.

No Cause of Death

Meanwhile, officials have yet to announce a cause of death for Giah Barrere.

“Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Police are conducting a thorough investigation of the incident, and are working with Paragon management and the local coroner as well,” Harold Pierite, chief of Tunica-Biloxi tribal police, said in a prior statement.

The casino was opened in 1994. The Marksville gaming complex is located some 88 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, La.