The head of the federal Employee Assistance Program said there has been a significant increase in calls from public servants contemplating suicide, and said his group is doing its best to help or direct those in need to help.

Employee Assistance Services national director Francois Legault was responding to a Radio-Canada and CBC story earlier this week about a public servant who his wife said took his own life in July.

Getting help

For more information about suicide prevention visit reachoutnow.ca or call the Mental Health Crisis Line at 1-866-996-0991.

Federal employees who are experiencing a period of stress can get support through the local Employee Assistance Program.

Other resources:

  • The Canadian Mental Health Association at 613-933-5845 or 1-800-493-8271.
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit at 613-933-1375 or 1-800-267-7120. Ask for Health Line.

Clarissa said her husband Eric — CBC and Radio-Canada have agreed not to use their last names — suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder his entire adult life and also battled depression.

She said when he received notice his department was cutting its staff by two thirds, his mental illness took over and his anxiety levels rose.

Clarissa said Eric declined to use the employee counselling that was offered, though he did see a psychiatrist on his own.

He took his own life in July.

Special accomodation for those with mental illness

Legault would not talk about Eric's case, but he did say those who've been identified to the Employee Assistance Program as suffering from mental illness do receive special accommodation.

"We will try to address their problems as best as we can within a short period of sessions and if that cannot be resolved then we will refer them to services in the community that can provide longer term treatment and more specialized treatment if necessary," he said.

mi-ott-eap-legault300

Employee Assistance Services national director Francois Legault said his group has seen a rise in calls this year from federal employees. (CBC)

Legault said of the 41,000 calls the EAP has handled so far this year, 155 have been calls from people who were contemplating suicide. Over the full year that projects to about a 20 per cent increase from the previous year, in what he calls "a significant increase."

Health Canada said there has also been a 33-per-cent jump in April over the previous year in calls to the EAP, and an average 11-per-cent increase in the months since.

Legault said it is too early to say why calls to his group have increased, and said they have yet to do an analysis of the cases.

Legault said the employee assistance program was not itself affected by the recent round of budget cuts and is meeting the needs of affected employees — including those identified as suffering from a mental illness.