11 people a day die by suicide in Canada , that’s over 4000 a year.
Canada is the only G8 country without a national suicide prevention strategy – indeed one of the few industrialized countries in the world without one. – Centre for Suicide Prevention
What is a National Suicide Prevention Strategy? According to suicideinfo.ca it is a road map which works to reduce risk factors for suicide while enhancing factors that build resilience both on a public health or population level, and on an individual or mental health level.
What would this mean for Canada? Why do we need federal support for such an initiative? An influential survey by Matsubayashi and Ueda (2011) of 21 nations from 1980-2003, found that suicide was reduced after a country introduced a national strategy. Scotland’s strategy in 2002 achieved an 18% reduction in suicides by 2012 (World Health Organization [WHO], 2014). The United Nations (UN) published a declaration in 1996 recommending that all countries develop a national suicide prevention strategy. 1996!!! Over 25 years ago and we still have not made suicide prevention a priority.
In England they focused on social media and how technology (analytics) could predict those at risk of suicide.
Australia has Guiding Principles of Suicide Prevention that include the following:
a. Suicide prevention should be approached at the population level through strategies to improve equity and address the social determinants that increase suicide risk
b. Suicide prevention should target communities, especially through strategies designed to increase social inclusion and reduce risk for priority populations
c. Suicide prevention should target the individual, through early intervention, prevention, response and aftercare interventions that go beyond a mental-health based approach and provide a continuum of care to every person at risk
We need such a plan in Canada. 4,000 people a year may not seem like a lot when you compare it to other causes of death but suicide is PREVENTABLE. Imagine losing two large high schools filled with people. Imagine losing the entire town of Ayr, or Caledon East or Mitchell. Would you be okay with an entire town being wiped out?
We need to focus on prevention at a federal level. We need dedicated funds to target social media and specific high risk groups. as well as early intervention, intervention and aftercare. I will speak to each of these areas in upcoming pieces. Suicide is preventable.