Edmonton

City's suicide prevention plan to cost $1.4M

The city is being asked to invest nearly $1.4 million over three years for the Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan.

In 2015, 214 people in Edmonton died by suicide — twice the number killed in vehicle crashes

City funding would go toward public awareness campaign, training for city staff, operating expenses for an implementation team and expanding men’s support services. (CBC)

Nadeen LaBoucane, an EMT, couldn't take it anymore.

In 2016, she drove to a parking lot in Sherwood Park and took enough prescription drugs to knock her unconscious. She was rescued by RCMP.

"There's some things you just can't unsee and there are some things you just can't unhear," LaBoucane said Wednesday.

The first responder of 21 years said she didn't know where to turn at the time.

Nadeen LaBoucane, an emergency communications officer who suffers from PTSD, shared her story with the suicide prevention plan committee. (Nadeen LaBoucane)

LaBoucane, an emergency communications officer, was one of a dozen people to attend the community and public services committee meeting in support of the Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan.

Several agencies have been working on the plan for a couple of years, including the city, Alberta Health Services, the provincial government, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Edmonton police and other community organizations.

A city report reveals 214 people in Edmonton died by suicide in 2015, 148 males and 66 females. Alberta Health says that's double the number of people who died in vehicle crashes the same year.

In 2016, hospital emergency rooms saw nearly 2,400 visits from victims of suicide attempts, the report said.

The plan includes a public awareness campaign, training for city staff, operating expenses for an implementation team and expanding men's support services. It will cost the city $1.39 million over three years.

"I think it's going to be a game-changer," said LaBoucane, who helped research the plan.
Coun. Scott McKeen wants the city to help change the stigma and open the discussion about suicide. (CBC)

The project was spurred by the city's decision to put up suicide barriers on the High Level bridge in July 2016.

"Working on the High Level Bridge was one small element and we had to look more broadly at cultural impacts that we could make," said Coun. Scott McKeen.

"We need to create room for people to talk about suicide," he said.

"I think even emerging generations of men continue to be taught about what real men look like. And real men are successful in realms of sports, and they're successful in business and they're unbreakable."

McKeen wants to see progress reports from city administration in a year to see how many people the project has helped.

Councillors will decide on the funding request at a council meeting next week.

@natashariebe