The number of Albertans who committed suicide in the first half of 2016 is down compared to the same time last year, according to the latest statistics from the province.

Between January and June, 255 people took their own lives. That's 20 per cent fewer than during the first six months of 2015.

Mara Granau, the head of the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Calgary, said the numbers are encouraging but hardly worth celebrating. 

"The numbers we have right now are lower than the numbers we have for last year, for  2015, but they're not low," she said. 

"And what we said last year is that Alberta's numbers are always high, and now they're higher. So the fact they've come down is encouraging, but to be clear they're not down in an overall sense of the word down, we're still pretty high across Canada."

'I do think it's a long game'

Alberta's suicide rate has long been above the national average.

Richard Ramsay has been providing suicide intervention training for 30 years and said the problem is Alberta has not had a sustained suicide prevention strategy since the early '90s.

The provincial government says it's implementing several new suicide prevention tools as a result of its recent mental health review.

"And so I do think a lot of good work is being done," said Granau. "I do think it's a long game and we're not going to see results in the way we want to see them anytime soon."

With files from Colleen Underwood