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World Suicide Prevention Day

Posted by Dr. Hedy Fry on September 11, 2012 | No Comments

Yesterday, World Suicide Prevention Day, gave us an opportunity to talk about the tragedy of suicide and its broad impact on families and communities. Indeed there are few Canadians who have not been touched by suicide; over 4000 Canadians a year, take their own lives. But the stigma surrounding suicide has kept us all silent and afraid. The feelings of guilt and shame that surround depression and mental illness have kept the issue hidden.

Suicide is the second highest cause of death amongst male youth 15-25. The rate is seven and eleven times higher, respectively, among Aboriginal and Inuit populations and suicide among LGBT youth is five times the national average. Suicides in the Canadian military have nearly doubled in the last year and studies indicate that veterans have a higher risk for suicide than the rest of Canadians. Seniors are also a high risk group. Yet suicide is preventable.

Last October, in an effort to remove the stigma of suicide, Liberals put forward a motion, in Parliament, to develop a national Suicide Prevention Strategy. It was a rare and moving day in the House of Commons, when Parliamentarians of all political stripes stood up to speak on how suicide had affected their lives or the lives of someone close. Indeed, all Parties in the house agreed that talk was not enough and voted to develop a National Suicide Prevention Strategy in co-ordination with federal, provincial governments, health care professionals, affected families and NGOs.

Unfortunately, despite government support for the motion, a year later, still no action has been taken. There is a Conservative MP’s Private Members Bill calling for a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, but it lacks a concrete plan and ‘teeth.’ In fact, several amendments to strengthen the Bill made by witnesses and experts were voted down by Conservative MPs on the Health Committee.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada released its Mental Health Strategy in May 2012, which highlighted suicide prevention; however the Conservative government to date has not given a substantive response.

The real tragedy is, because suicide is preventable, each day that we fail to create a National Suicide Prevention Strategy, we compound this tragic human loss.

I truly hope that by the next World Suicide Prevention Day, Canada would have a National Suicide Prevention Strategy in place.

Dr. Hedy Fry

Liberal Health Critic
MP, Vancouver Centre

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  1. Avatar of Loreen Lee Loreen Lee said on

    Gee, I just signed out of the blog on Community Health and got flagged and ‘directed here’. For the last couple of years I have been following Psychiatric Times, and the Google Alerts on P.T.S.D, which in the case of American vets, particularly, keep me abreast on on-going research into suicide prevention. I would recommend those interested to similarly get involved in the ongoing research.
    From my own experience, suicide can be a response to many factors inluding loss of hope, low self-esteem (bullying and stereotyping and stigma) and the causes of depression and even loss of reality, dissoiation, etc. The question is: can the symptoms be recognized by the average person within a on-going life-personal-interaction context. We can only know, if we become involved, and become more aware of the symptoms, as research has shown that no, people prone to suicide do not always make their intentions known. Hopefully, by examining our own individual propensities, we shall be more readily attune to recognize disabling psyhological characteristis that would lead a person to suicide, within others. Self-awareness, into the working of our own mind and behavior, I believe, can help in understanding the needs and disabilities of others. It also would help if more people became more aware of the general knowledge of the professionals, who unfortunately, do not themselves have ‘all the answers’. (Just a thought).

  2. Avatar of Loreen Lee Loreen Lee said on

    I just was directed here by a ‘flag’ after commenting on the blog regarding Community Health, and was pleased to find another discussion of mental health issues. During the last several years I have familarized myself with current knowledge regarding this, by following Psychiatric Times, and the Google Alerts on PTSD, and Schizophrenia, etc. Although symptomatic features range from depression, dissociation, lack of hope, response to bullying, stigma and many other features, I believe that no cut and dry answer to preventive measures has been formulated. Can we learn to recognize the symptoms. May I suggest that if we continue to become more aware of psychological issues within ourselves, we may by this increased awareness be more able to iassess similar characteristics in others, particularly if/when we have developed ‘control’ over those psychological factors, and thus have more assurance that our perceptions are clear and unbiased. I believe that the professionals have found that it is not true that those at risk for suicide communicate their intention to others. But I must remember that I once, when I was very young, failed a person in such need, because I ‘did not know what to do’, and ‘did not Really believe’, what I was hearing. Another case, where, in the identification, of mental illness, etc. we are reliant on our own capabilities and empathy with others. I am pleased that this issue is being placed before the house, and that the ‘idea’ is being promoted, but I am also convinced that the real progress is made in such issues, only when the development of awareness within individuals is made within ‘real community’. The best.


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