Saskatchewan

Suicide strategy bill back before Sask. legislature

A bill calling for a provincial suicide strategy is back in the legislature. NDP MLA Doyle Vermette brought this private member's bill forward last year, but it failed. 

NDP MLA Doyle Vermette introduced bill last year and it failed

Health minister Jim Reiter said the province is looking to other provincial strategies for ideas as well.  (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

A bill calling for a provincial suicide strategy is back in the legislature. NDP MLA Doyle Vermette brought this private member's bill forward last year, but it failed. 

Two mothers of children who died by suicide were at the legislative building Tuesday to voice their support for a provincial strategy. Sally Ratt's daughter Ariana was 12 when she died. 

"I tried to get my daughter help and her appointments were two weeks, three weeks, a month down the road and she needed the help now," Ratt said. 

The bill would see the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) take responsibility for the strategy and include elements like:

  • "providing guidelines to improve public awareness and knowledge about suicide.
  • disseminating information about suicide, including information concerning its prevention.
  • making publicly available existing statistics about suicide and related risk factors.
  • promoting the use of research and evidence-based practices for the prevention of suicide."

The SHA would also give an annual report on the strategy's progress.

"I think it's a start and I think it's about time that we work together as a province to help each other and heal together," Ratt said. 

Vermette said he agrees the process should be collaborative.  

"How can we work together?" Vermette said.

"It doesn't have to be blame, it just has to be 'let's work together' [and] at the end of the day, use the health region to make sure that they put out a report each year saying 'okay, did we achieve what we were trying to? Are we hearing what people were saying?'"

Best practices

Health Minister Jim Reiter said Saskatchewan is looking to other provincial strategies for ideas as well. 

"We're trying to follow best practices around the country," Reiter said. 

"It's going to obviously need to be a focus on counselling. I think it's going to need to be a focus on schools."

Reiter said the province takes this issue seriously and that they are looking at several options for next steps. Reiter also said he is very willing to meet with Vermette and give updates as soon as they become available.

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