This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available.
Crisis Suicide Helpline (9-8-8)
Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1 800 463-2338)
Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)
Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)
If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, major party leaders and some cabinet ministers, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is calling on Canada to create a national suicide prevention strategy.
The letter was signed by 121 leading experts from 30 countries as members of the Partnerships for Life Global Initiative to Prevent Suicide and was endorsed by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Prevention Ottawa and all members of the Association of Chairs of Psychiatry in Canada.
Advocates are calling on Canada “as a leading G7 nation” to become a world leader in suicide prevention by creating a national program, something only around 40 other countries in the world have.
“Suicide continues be a leading cause of death globally and the world is currently not on track to achieving the one third reduction in suicide mortality rates as laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” an IASP release stated.
In the letter, experts stressed the importance of “a co-ordinated cross-sectoral strategy, led at the federal level,” to address the nuanced challenges surrounding suicide prevention.
“We are hopeful that this call will add momentum to Canadian efforts to enhance existing support for suicide prevention like the recent three-digit (988) national crisis line number,” Dr. Mark Sinyor, associate professor at the University of Toronto and associate scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, said in the release.
The IASP says more than 4,000 Canadians die by suicide every year and evidence suggests a national program is the “optimal” prevention method, with research indicating countries with a suicide prevention program often have lower suicide rates than those that don’t.
An excerpt from the letter to Trudeau reads: “The Government of Canada is undoubtedly giving suicide prevention substantial attention, for which we express our deepest appreciation. However, regrettably, we must also highlight the stark fact that, at a federal policy level, Canada is far behind other similarly resourced and even many, more poorly resourced, countries.”
IASP president Rory O’Connor added the organization recommends every country should adopt or make progress towards adopting a national suicide prevention strategy.
“Suicide is a global public health concern, and as experts committed to saving lives, we recognise the significance of a concerted effort on a national level. Efforts such as this from Canada present a real opportunity for positive change,” O’Connor said in the release.
The IASP added Canada should implement policies that limit access to lethal doses of over-the-counter medication and introduce guidelines for how to care for someone in hospital after a suicide attempt.
The organization also praised Canada for its “cutting-edge research on understanding suicide and best practices in suicide prevention” but said the country is still “lagging behind its peers.”