Motion for national suicide prevention strategy to be voted on next week

A debate will take place next week on a motion to create a national suicide prevention plan.

Motion discussed in Ottawa on Thursday

Charlie Angus is the NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A debate will take place next week on a motion to create a national suicide prevention plan.

Motion 174 was put forward by Timmins-James Bay NDP MP Charlie Angus. Suicide, particularly among young Indigenous people, has taken a toll in his riding and across the country. Angus spoke about the motion in the House of Commons on Thursday.

"How is it possible with a country with as much resources, as much hope and as much skill as Canada can leave its young to die?" he asked.

"That is a question that we as parliamentarians need to respond to."

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, suicide accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15 to 24 year olds and 16 per cent among 25 to 44 year olds. It adds suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.

"The deaths of people in this country from hopelessness, from mental illness is unacceptable at the rates that we're seeing," Angus said.

"What we've learned today is that suicide does not respect political boundaries. It does not respect the boundaries of faith. It does not live in urban or rural. It is not for rich or for poor. It affects every community and every death is like an emotional shock wave that tears families apart."

'Not good enough to wait'

Angus says the province of Quebec has its own strategy in place. He says it's time to implement a similar model across Canada.

"We know that frameworks and action plans work," he said.

"We can look to Quebec. It's is a world model. They've dropped the youth suicide rate by 50 per cent. Imagine what that would mean in the rest of this country."

Angus says the motion would mean people struggling with mental illness would have better access to support and resources. He adds if higher rates of suicide start to appear in a certain area, help could be sent in early.

"It's not good enough to wait until the crisis hits," he said.

"Proactive, engagement and working with communities across this country gives people a sense that their lives have meaning, their lives have dignity and they won't take that dark path."

The vote on the motion is set for next Wednesday, May 8.

With files from Kate Rutherford