Mummy Buzz


Canada Needs Suicide Prevention Plan

Welfare Children at Increased Risk

"I am tired of life really. It's so hard, I'm sorry, I can't take it anymore. I don't want to wait three more years, this hurts too much. How do you even know it will get better?"

These were the last words of Jamie Hubley, the gay 15-year-old son of Ottawa Councillor Allan Hubley who committed suicide on October 14th, 2011.

In light of the bullying epidemic and spate of recent suicides, it's somewhat shocking that Canada -- a country in which at least 10 people die by suicide every day -- doesn't yet have a national suicide prevention strategy.

Europe, the United States, New Zealand, even Sri Lanka all have a prevention plan in place, so why don't we?

The Canadian Medical Association Journal's (CMAJ) recent analysis has found that children and adolescents in the welfare system are particularly at risk of attempted suicide compared with the general population, especially before they enter care.

"Many Canadian physicians, policy-makers and politicians have not been adequately updated by experts in the field that suicide is preventable," claims Dr. Paul Links, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. "As a result, physicians in particular may not be aware of their important role in suicide prevention."

A prevention program would typically include: public education, responsible media reporting, detection and treatment of depression and mental health issues, addressing alcohol and drug abuse, crisis intervention and follow up, training and education of health care professionals, reduced access to methods of suicide and more.

"Given the number of Canadians who die by suicide each year, the burden in terms of the suffering and pain of those left to cope with the loss of a loved one and the growing evidence of effective strategies for prevention, physicians have a responsibility to encourage governments to move toward policies and programs that will prevent suicides," says Dr. Links.

"In Canada, this includes encouraging the federal government to form a national strategy for suicide prevention similar to those in place in so many other developed nations."

We can no longer bury our heads in the sand. Doctors may be on the front lines when it comes to treatment, but it's up to us, as mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters to open our eyes and look for warning signs before it's too late.

Without intervention, as was sadly the case for Hubley, it doesn't always get better.