NDP introduces bill to implement suicide prevention strategy

Today, to address the Sask. Party government’s failure to properly plan and implement a suicide prevention strategy for Saskatchewan, the NDP introduced Bill No. 613 — The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act, 2018.

“In cities, towns, rural and remote areas, people are dying because they can’t get access to the care and supports they need,” said Northern Affairs Critic Doyle Vermette, who tabled the Bill Tuesday afternoon. “I have been to way too many funerals for people in my communities who felt they had nowhere to turn. Suicide is a serious problem in Saskatchewan, and something needs to be done.”

The FSIN has released a strategy of their own, which notes that the rates of suicide among First Nations is more than four times higher the rest of the province, and for First Nations girls, the rates are more than 29 times higher than the rest of the province. Saskatchewan’s suicide rate as a whole is among the highest in the country, with 1,895 people having committed suicide between 2005 and 2017 and yearly numbers trending upward. While several other provinces have introduced suicide prevention strategies, Saskatchewan has yet to do so.

The NDP bill would mandate the Saskatchewan Health Authority to start consultations with relevant stakeholders and groups within 180 days of coming into force for the development of the strategy. It would also direct the SHA to establish a suicide prevention strategy and report annually on the progress it has made, and would further require the SHA to:

  • Provide guidelines to improve public awareness and knowledge about suicide;
  • Disseminate information about suicide and suicide prevention;
  • Make information about suicide statistics and risk factors available;
  • Promote collaboration across jurisdictions and regions;
  • Define best practices for suicide prevention and;
  • Promote the use of research and evidence-based practices for the prevention of suicide.

“We need a government that’s willing to treat this issue with the urgency it deserves,” said Mental Health and Addictions Critic Danielle Chartier. “The bill we’ve introduced would ensure our government does precisely that, harnessing the resources of our health sector in the service of reducing the number of suicides we see each year.”