P.E.I. to create suicide prevention plan

The P.E.I. government has announced plans to create a suicide prevention strategy.

Consultations to start with key stakeholders, public

The strategy will promote prevention, resilience, and a commitment to change, says Health Minister Rob Henderson. (CBC)

The P.E.I. government has announced plans to create a suicide prevention strategy.

The strategy would include preventative goals, priority areas for reducing suicide risk, recommendations for enhanced coordination of services, and key measurement indicators.

"Suicide is a very permanent response to temporary, yet overwhelming pain," said Health and Wellness Minister Rob Henderson in a news release.

"An effective prevention strategy is needed to promote awareness of suicide, while also promoting prevention, resilience, and a commitment to change."

The province will partner with the Canadian Mental Health Association on the creation of the strategy.

"Our organization has been working in the area of suicide prevention for a number of years. In the last couple of weeks, the department made contact with us and asked if we'd work with them to develop a suicide prevention strategy for the province. We think it's an important piece of work, so we agreed," said executive director Reid Burke. 

"I think we've done a lot of work over the years. But we need to be able to work in partnership and take a look at what the latest research is, what are more appropriate ways to engage folks who are struggling, different ages, different populations." 

Community engagement needed

Burke said the CMHA will create a team in the organization that has expertise and experience working in that area. They will look at the latest research and connect with other provinces to see what approaches they're using.

"We've got to engage the community. One of the things we're concerned about is that there are many folks that struggle that don't reach out for help. We've got to do some community engagement and get a gauge on those perspectives." 

The executive director said they'll make recommendations on what supports and services need to be made available in a timely manner. 

"We are not going to have the answers right away. So I think the work we'll do over the next year will be very valuable.  And as you do that work, there will be things we'll be developing and working on throughout that."

Burke said a more strategic approach is needed to help deal with the issue of suicide. 

"We are concerned about suicide — one is too many. So if we can put a structure together and a more methodical way of going about this, the bottom line is we want to reduce the amount of suicide, and I think with a more strategic approach we can do that." 

The plan will begin with consultations with key stakeholders and the public over the next year, with a report to be completed by the spring of 2018. The government says it has allocated $55,000 for the creation of the strategy.