British Columbia

'There was no help': Vancouver Island mother calls for national anti-suicide plan

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention says Canada is the only developed country without a national suicide prevention strategy, and a Vancouver Island woman who lost her son says that needs to change.

Carole Pullman’s son died by suicide earlier this year, says medical system failed him

Carole Pullman's son, Earl, died earlier in 2016 by suicide. He poses in a photo here with his daughter. (Carole Pullman)

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention says Canada is the only developed country without a national suicide prevention strategy, and a Vancouver Island woman says that needs to change.

Carole Pullman's son, Earl, died by suicide earlier this year. She says the medical system needs to get better at treating addiction and depression that can lead to suicide.

She says when Earl tried to get help, the response wasn't appropriate.

"The psychiatrist finally came in and spoke to him. She found out a bit of his story, and she said, 'You know what you need? You need to get a job. Or go back to school,' Pullman told All Points West guest host David Lennam.

"And she just walked away. Just like that.… There was no help. None at all. He felt like he had nowhere else to go. Nobody seemed to want him."

'If you can at all help it, don't let them go'

Pullman says her son's downward spiral began when he relapsed into addiction after about five years of sobriety, costing him his second marriage.

The day he died, he told his mother he was going to an addiction meeting in Nanaimo, B.C.

"He phoned about 11:30 at night. He said he was at Mill Bay, and he had run out of gas and could I put $20 in his account. So I did," she said. "Never heard [from] him again."

Earl killed himself that night near Pullman's home.

"I just can't imagine the depth of despair he felt. It was just awful," she said. "I don't think people, when they're in that kind of despair … they don't realize what a devastating thing it leaves all the people left behind."

Pullman is speaking out in hopes of bringing change to the way suicide prevention is handled in Canada.

She says it's not just the medical system that needs to change — she says society as a whole needs to be there for people in crisis.

"Don't let them go. If you can at all help it, don't let them go."

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: 'There was no help': Vancouver Island mother calls for national anti-suicide plan

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