NDP launches bill to create national suicide prevention strategy
Says Canada falling behind other countries that already have strategies
Thu 4 Nov 2010
Ottawa – Megan Leslie, New Democrat Critic for Health, announced the introduction of legislation, An Act respecting a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, that will direct the Federal government to establish a national suicide prevention strategy, in consultation with the provincial, territorial and First Nations Governments.“We need national coordination of best practices for service provision, training professionals, as well as education for the public,” said Leslie. “Australia has had a national strategy for over 10 years, and is continuing to improve upon their system. Countries like the US and UK also have strategies, and lower suicide rates than Canada.”
Every year over 3,500 Canadians die by suicide. It is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst 25 to 49 year olds and the second leading cause of death in the 10 to 24 age group. The suicide rate for aboriginal youth is four to six times that of non-natives.
“Northern and First Nations communities are suffering disproportionately and would greatly benefit from coordinated support and program development from around the country,” said Carol Hughes, New Democrat Deputy Aboriginal Affairs Critic (Health). “We have an opportunity with this bill to greatly improve the lives of all Canadians, but in the North, this could also save entire communities from the long-term negative emotional and societal effects of losing loved-ones, especially youth.”
“Suicide is not just a health issue it is a social and community issue, it is complex, it is a national tragedy and most importantly it is preventable,” said Tim Wall, Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. “We can save lives and keep more families from being torn apart if we work together, across parties and across jurisdictions. We know what to do to prevent suicides. There is hope. Keeping that hope alive and saving lives however requires everyone’s involvement and support, and must include the Government of Canada.”
The bill will be tabled in the House of Commons on Friday, November 5, 2010 by Megan Leslie, and seconded by Carol Hughes. Both Leslie and Hughes are calling for the government to examine the strategy laid out in the legislation after it is tabled, and urge the Health Minister to take immediate action to establish such a strategy.