To: Standing Committee on Health (HESA)
From: Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health
March 5, 2012—The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) is an alliance of mental health organizations comprised of health providers and organizations representing persons with mental illness and their families and caregivers. CAMIMH’s mandate is to ensure that mental health is placed on the national agenda in order to improve the mental health of all Canadians and ensure that persons with a lived experience of mental illness and their families receive appropriate access to care and support.
Every year approximately 4,000 Canadians take their own lives, meaning 10 or more people in this country will take their own life today. Yet, Canada stands alone as one of the few developed nations without a national strategy for the prevention of suicide. As such, CAMIMH supports Bill C-300, An Act respecting a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention.
The enactment of this Bill will provide the legislative foundation for a national suicide prevention policy. It will establish a requirement for the Government of Canada to develop a federal framework for suicide prevention in consultation with non-governmental organizations, the provinces and territories, and with relevant federal departments. CAMIMH believes that the passing of this legislation is a necessary step forward in the area of suicide prevention.
CAMIMH urges all Federal politicians to support Bill C-300 so that the bill can be enacted in law. As it is currently written Bill C300 places great emphasis on knowledge exchange. This is an essential element of a comprehensive and multifaceted national approach to suicide prevention however it should and cannot stand alone; it is one pillar on which suicide prevention rests. CAMIMH believes that a national coordinating body is essential to success that will promote collaboration and eliminating the kind of fragmentation as currently exists in Canada. A national coordinating body could report back to Parliament annually to demonstrate its progress to date.
What follows are our recommendations as possible amendments for consideration of the Standing Committee on Health to further strengthen this legislation:
- The creation of a distinct national coordinating body for suicide prevention that
(a) reports its progress back to parliament on an annual basis; and
(b) adopts the Blueprint for Canadian National Suicide Prevention Strategy that was prepared by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention with other organizations and individuals.
Federal Budget 2012
Last October, the House of Commons voted in near-unanimous support for an opposition motion recognizing suicide prevention as a national public health priority and calling upon the federal government to establish and fund a national suicide prevention strategy, which among other measures would promote a comprehensive and evidence-driven approach to deal with this terrible loss of life. It is our hope that the upcoming 2012 Federal budget will include the appropriate and necessary funds to establish and fund a strategy.
In addition, it is important that the Government fund research to advance evidence-based knowledge about suicide and suicide prevention, and evaluation to determine effective practices for the prevention of suicide.