Let’s Talk Suicide Prevention Strategy

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Let’s Talk Suicide Prevention Strategy

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.

  • ensuring every mental health trust has a zero-suicide ambition plan for mental health inpatients by the end of 2019
  • every prison putting actions in place to reduce suicides and self-harm and improve staff awareness and training
  • addressing the specific needs of the highest risk groups, including middle-aged men, with £25 million funding (that’s over 42 million in Canadian dollars)
  • improving research on things that can be linked to suicide, such as debt and gambling addiction

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.

Tina Szymczak
Tina Szymczak
Tina Szymczak is a 40-something mom and wife with two spirited boys. She has worked in early intervention and as an advocate resource for families with a loved one with a disability. Now she also writes a blog about raising children with complex needs, trying not to lose your sense of self as you parent, and her struggles with mental health.

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