Call for action on suicide prevention strategy

Published February 7, 2012

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention says that political action could save lives. Photo:kwest

Cynthia Patterson, suicide prevention program co-ordinator for the Council of the North, is urging all Anglicans in Canada to support legislative efforts to create a national suicide prevention strategy. “The church is amazingly placed to activate a wide advocacy network,” she says.

 Two private members bills addressing the need for a national strategy were tabled in the House of Commons last year by Conservative MP Harold Albrecht and NDP MP Megan Leslie.  It is anticipated that Bill C-300-An Act Respecting A Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention -will go to a second reading in the House of Commons soon. Patterson is urging Anglicans across the country to contact their MPs and write to the prime minister to support the bills.

“Canada is one of the few western countries not to have a national suicide prevention strategy,” points out Henriette Thompson, public witness coordinator for social justice, Office of the Primate, Anglican Church of Canada. “It is tremendously important that the church’s voice be heard in Ottawa on this critical issue which disproportionately affects indigenous peoples, especially indigenous youth,” said Thompson in an email sent to the Journal earlier today. In it, Thompson “strongly encouraged” the following actions:

1.     Write to the Hon. Harold Albrecht, M.P., the Prime Minister and your local MP.  Parliamentary email addresses can be found at:

2.     Copy your letter to Dammy Damstrom Albach, president of the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Suicide (CASP) [email protected] as well as to Thompson at General Synod: [email protected]

3.     Forward this request and sample letter to people in your networks. The sample letter can be obtained from Patterson by emailing a request to her at [email protected].

CASP is also calling on MPs from all parties to support the bills. “Until now, Canada has ignored both the U.N. and W.H.O. [World Health Organization] guidelines that recognize suicide as a global health crisis and that calls upon every country to have both a national strategy for suicide prevention and an adequately funded national coordinating body,” a statement from the CASP notes. It also encouraged Canadians to sign a petition on Albrecht’s website (under private members’ business).

“A call to action that charts a course for suicide prevention in Canada must address the many factors that put people at risk, promote the factors that protect them, and delivers the needed services and supports,” said Dr. Karen Cohen, CEO of the Canadian Psychological Association in the release from CASP.


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