CMHA and CASP are calling for an integrated and collaborative strategy on suicide prevention for military personnel and all Canadians
OTTAWA, December 6, 2013 – Over the last several days, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) have been moved by the recent deaths by suicide within the Canadian military and are concerned about suicidal behaviour among university students and military veterans. We are deeply saddened by these personal and societal tragedies and share in the devastating impact these have on family members, colleagues, friends and on university campuses across the country.
Members of the Canadian Forces, Veterans, their friends and families deserve a more integrated approach to addressing the wide range of factors related to suicide. An evidence-based comprehensive range of services and supports must include psychological and social factors, and be better integrated with services for the general public in order to meet the unique needs of individuals. This will require a strong level of collaboration and integration between government services and community mental health services and supports.
Strategies for preventing suicide involve many different stakeholders and different approaches, including helping people learn skills to address challenges of everyday life as well as knowing how to identify and reduce risk factors associated with suicide. They also involve hope.
“We cannot underestimate the role that hope plays in our lives,” said Renée Ouimet, President of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. “We also know how important it is to remember that we are not alone. Reaching out to others for help or to talk is an important first step to finding ways to cope or learning new skills to address issues underlying suicidal thoughts”.
The media can play a powerful role in educating the public about suicide prevention and in encouraging help-seeking and help-offering behaviours. Stories about suicide can inform readers and viewers about the likely causes of suicide, its warning signs, trends in suicide rates, and recent treatment advances. They can also highlight opportunities to prevent suicide and counter stigma associated with asking for help. Research has demonstrated decreases in suicide rates following the implementation of these and other recommendations related to media coverage of suicide.
While many organizations and governments are helping to prevent suicide and deal with the tragic loss due to suicide, more can be done to help Canadians.
“We have reviewed the Surgeon General’s recently published Mental Health Strategy for the Canadian Forces and are pleased to see that the Strategy strongly supports the value of community mental health services and supports for members of the military,” said Peter Coleridge, National CEO, CMHA. “Members of the armed forces and their families live in and contribute to all of our communities. We need to work together to finalize an integrated and collaborative strategy on suicide prevention for all Canadians, including members of the Forces, their families and veterans”.
All Canadians – the general population and members of the Canadians Forces, Veterans, friends and families – should be guaranteed the same right to comprehensive, accessible, and coordinated services and supports focused on maintaining and improving mental health, preventing and treating mental illness and supporting recovery.
For more information with regard to recognizing the signs of suicide and to support others in getting help, please consult resources at the CASP website:
Please also see resources regarding grief and coping with loss as a result of death by suicide at:
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About the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
CMHA was founded in 1918 and is one of Canada’s oldest not-for-profit organizations. With more than 10,000 staff and volunteers in over 120 communities across Canada, CMHA provides vital services and support to well over half a million Canadians every year. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience and support recovery from mental illness. Please visit cmha.ca for more information.
About the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP)
CASP is a national non-profit organization, incorporated in 1985 by a group of professionals who saw the need to provide information and resources to communities to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicidal behaviour.
For more information, or to book interviews with Peter Coleridge, National CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association and/or Renée Ouimet, Board Chair, Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, please contact:
Senior Communications and Media Advisor, CMHA National