MP REPORT: WE NEED A NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION STRATEGY

There is not a single community in Northern Manitoba that has not been impacted by suicide.

In my community visits I have met with many people who have lost a friend or family member to suicide. They have talked about how it has impacted everyone in their family and their community.

In some cases there were advance signs. In other cases there was no advance warning. Almost everyone has stressed one thing - preventing suicide starts with recognizing we have a problem and agreeing we have to act to deal with it.

There are many people out there working to prevent suicide. We know you can make a difference.

We know from other countries that a coordinated national strategy would expand and strengthen their efforts.

Support for a national suicide prevention strategy is growing throughout Canada. Our caucus has launched a campaign in support of An Act Respecting a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention introduced in the House of Commons in November 2010.

The Act directs the Federal government to establish a national suicide prevention strategy, in consultation with the provincial, territorial, and First Nations governments.

Each day ten people commit suicide in Canada, with over 3500 Canadians dying each year. It is the third leading cause of death among 25 to 49 year olds, and the second leading cause of death in the 10 to 24 age group. The suicide rate for Aboriginal youth is four to six times higher than that of non-aboriginal Canadians. Other vulnerable groups include seniors, and lesbian, gay and transgendered individuals.

We have to be particularly concerned with the high rate of Aboriginal youth suicide. It is tragic to hear the stories of hopelessness that drive so many young Aboriginal people to feel there is no way out but to take their own lives.

We need a strategy to prevent suicide so that young people can find a way out of depression or substance abuse and live to fulfill their potential.

We are asking people to write a letter, petition, postcard, and find ways to support the campaign through social media. The information and requests for endorsements will be sent to health care organizations, governments, community groups and individuals throughout the country.

We have to let people know we can make a difference. Having a suicide prevention strategy at a national level is a key element.

Fundamentally what we need to do is make sure we have hope. Hope for all our citizens. Hope for all our communities.