New Brunswick

High suicide rates in north prompt coroner to call for research

New Brunswick's chief coroner says there needs to be more research to determine why Campbellton and Edmundston have the highest rates of suicide in the province.

Campbellton, Edmundston suicide rates almost double New Brunswick average over 9-year period

Gregory Forestell's analysis of suicide statistics shows there are 101 suicide deaths in New Brunswick a year. (YouTube)

New Brunswick's chief coroner says there needs to be more research to determine why Campbellton and Edmundston have the highest rates of suicide in the province.

"Is it lack of jobs? Is it family moving away – so lack of support systems in place? We just don't know," said Gregory Forestell.

The rate of suicide is calculated per 100,000 people. Campbellton has a rate of 24 suicide deaths while Edmundston has a rate of 20. That's almost double the rate when compared to the rest of the province.

Statistics from 2005-13 studied

Forestell has averaged statistics from the chief coroner's annual reports from 2005 to 2013 as part of a study on suicide in New Brunswick. 

His annual report for 2014 won't be released until all death investigations for that year are completed, which he expects to happen in the fall.

Forestell hopes the study on suicide may spark some interest in looking at the causes of suicide in the province.

"Perhaps my research and academic colleagues may wish to take the study a little further and drill down on why people are committing suicide and what some of the contributing factors may be," said Forestell.

101 suicides per year

On average, there have been 101 suicide deaths a year in New Brunswick between 2005 and 2013, that's slightly higher than the average Canadian rate and on par with the United States.

Forestell's provincial analysis also shows men are four times more likely to commit suicide than woman and people between 40 and 60 years old account for close to 50 per cent of suicides.

The province offers a suicide prevention program in New Brunswick, providing local suicide prevention committees made up of survivors, mental health workers and provincial officials.

Kristen Barnes, operations manager at the Canadian Mental Health Association in Moncton, says there is always a need for increasing provincial funding for counselling and group support programs.

"In the past it's been quite low in comparison to other things, so if we could look at shifting more funding towards mental health services, it would help provincially in being able to increase access to those services," said Barnes.

With files for Information Morning Saint John

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