Today at the Legislature, NDP Leader Ryan Meili was joined by Makwa Sahgaiehcan Chief Ronald Mitsuing to push the government to support the NDP’s bill to implement a suicide prevention strategy.
“Families are hurting, communities across the province are hurting, and they are all looking for answers from the government,” Meili said. “Right now, we’re seeing the suicide crisis get worse, not better, because we don’t have a government that is putting people first.
Earlier in the Fall Session NDP Critic for Northern Affairs Doyle Vermette introduced Bill No. 618 — The Saskatchewan Strategy for Suicide Prevention Act. A similar bill was introduced by the NDP last year but was not supported by the Sask. Party.
“We are losing far too many young people right now,” Chief Mitsuing said. “The resources and support aren’t there to help communities deal with this crisis. We are looking to the province to step up — good actions now can set us on the right path for better relations going forward.”
The government has said it needs to study the issue further before committing to further action. However jurisdictional scans exist which demonstrate other governments have taken action to address the issue. The Quebec Suicide prevention strategy, for example, has managed to reduce overall suicide rates by 30 percent and youth suicide rates by half.
“When more than 2,200 people have died by suicide in Saskatchewan since 2005 and when the suicide rate for First Nations people in our province is four times that of the rest of the population, it’s time for the government to step up and act,” Meili said. “We need a suicide prevention strategy to ensure supports are there for people when they need them.”