Ottawa, Ontario | Tuesday, September 10, 2013 |

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national voice of Canada’s Inuit, are encouraging all Canadians to join a worldwide movement to celebrate life and to save lives.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an opportunity to bring much-needed attention to an issue that claimed the lives of more than 3,500 Canadians last year.

“The thousands of people who die by suicide this year will leave a circle of devastated family members, friends and colleagues,” says Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the MHCC. “These deaths are almost always preventable.”

It is estimated that more than 90 per cent of Canadians who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental illness. In recognition of the link between mental health and suicide prevention, the MHCC is partnering with CASP and ITK to promote this important day of awareness and action.

“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business,” says Dammy Damstrom-Albach, President of CASP. “Every Canadian should know what to notice and what to do.”

“Hope, resilience, and connection are three essential ingredients to keeping people safe in times of trouble or despair,” says Damstrom-Albach.

The organizations, together with several other partners, including Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the Nunavut Sivuniksavut Training Program, the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre and the Ottawa Friendship Centre Tungasuvvingat Inuit are encouraging individuals, families, workplaces, communities, governments and others to begin a dialogue about suicide, and to commit to taking more action on suicide prevention.

“The suicide rate among Inuit is 11 times the national average, and most of these tragic, preventable deaths occur among men and women under 30,” says National Inuit Leader Terry Audla, President of

ITK. “But this is not simply an Inuit issue or an Aboriginal problem. These unspeakable horrors affect all Canadians, and it will take the concerted efforts of all Canadians to break the silence surrounding suicide and mental illness.”

Bradley, Damstrom-Albach and Audla were among the speakers at an awareness-raising event on Parliament Hill today in Ottawa. They encouraged Canadians to commit to learning how to recognize the signs of suicide, to ask for help when they need it, download posters from CASP, host local activities in their communities, and light a candle at 8:00 pm in tribute to lives lost.

“And most importantly, we are asking them to speak up and get the conversation going,” adds Bradley.

Families, communities and workplaces play a critical role in helping people develop the skills and abilities to cope with the unavoidable stresses and challenges of life. Building on the international theme for World Suicide Prevention Day, Stigma: A Major Barrier to Suicide Prevention, Canada’s theme is Hope and Resiliency at Home and Work. This focus is intended to provide tools to strengthen connections, promote conversations about mental wellness, and know how we can help protect and care for each other during times of crisis.

“On World Suicide Prevention Day, and every day of the year, every person needs to know that mental illnesses are treatable, suicides are preventable, stigma is not acceptable and knowledge, support and care are cornerstones of recovery and maintaining wellness,” says Dave Gallson, Co-Chair, Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.

More quotes on World Suicide Prevention Day;

“As someone in the business of injury prevention, I find it absolutely shocking and unacceptable that 3,500 Canadians took their own lives last year. We need to do more together. This is definitely a conversation that Canadians need to have and Parachute is pleased to join in this worldwide movement to prevent suicide and help people live long lives to the fullest.” – Louise Logan, President and CEO, Parachute

“Just as we have done with physical illnesses such as heart and stroke and cancer, we must educate all Canadians on risk factors and warning signs of suicide so we can save more lives.” – Tana Nash, President of the Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention.

“Numerous studies have shown a clear link between substance abuse disorders and suicide. Unfortunately, in Northern communities we see a higher proportion of both. CCSA is committed to continuing our productive and collaborative relationship with the MHCC to reduce all harms associated with the misuse of alcohol, licit and illicit drugs – among our First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, as well as in Canadian communities across the country.” – Michel Perron, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).

“Suicide is a leading cause of death among young people, and a large portion of those who die by suicide suffer from mental health issues. Recent reports have highlighted the difficulty students face dealing with stigmas and risk factors that can lead to mental health or suicide.” – Jonathan Champagne, National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).

“We are convinced that stopping suicide is possible, necessary and urgent. It is an important public health issue. We should expect more from our governments who should reinforce efficient actions, from our organisations who should do more for their employees’ wellness, and from ourselves by getting involved, supporting the cause or caring for someone we love.” – Bruno Marchand, CEO of the Quebec Association for suicide prevention.

For more information on how Canadians can participate in World Suicide Prevention Day, and to download new resources for families and employers, visit www.suicideprevention.ca.

Note for media: When reporting on suicide, we kindly encourage you to include contact information for a local crisis centre.

ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.
www.mentalhealthcommission.ca

ABOUT INUIT TAPIRIIT KANATAMI

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is a registered charitable organization dedicated to promoting Inuit culture and identity and improving the well being of Canada’s 55,000 Inuit. It works at the national level to influence government policy and program delivery, and advocates for improved services in Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland in Canada, which is made up of four land claim settlement areas: Nunavut, Nunavik (Northern Quebec), Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador) and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories.
www.itk.ca

Contact:

Kyle Marr, Senior Communication Specialist
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Office: 403-385‐4050
Mobile: 587-226‐8782
kmarr@mentalhealthcommission.ca

Patricia D’Souza, Senior Communications Officer Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Office: 613-238-8181 Mobile: 613-292-4482
dsouza@itk.ca

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The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Production of this document is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.