Suicide rates among Interior Health youth nearly double B.C. average

Vernon agency surveying parents, youth, teachers on how to help

Rising youth suicide rates have prompted doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to launch a six-week clinical trial that includes adolescents who showed up at the hospital before or after they attempted to take their own lives. Black Press Media file photo

No matter the cause or the reason, suicides take a heavy toll on a community.

In Canada, suicide is the second-highest cause of death for youth aged 10-24. The Interior Health region has one of the highest rates of youth suicide deaths in British Columbia, 8.3 per every 100,000 people compared to the B.C. average of 4.3.

The Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon & District Branch (CMHA) wants to know why this is, as every life lost to suicide is one too many. With a desire to reduce these numbers, CMHA Vernon urges the community to join the conversation about ways to improve our local youth’s mental health and suicide prevention services.

“These high rates of suicide are a clear indication that we need to come together as a community to have a collaborative conversation about suicide and suicide prevention. Our goal is to gain a holistic view of mental health services, supports and gaps in our community,” suicide prevention programs manager Alyssa Christmas said. “Your experience is important to the work we are doing.”

CMHA is taking a closer look at youth suicide prevention and intervention strategies for youth and their families in the area starting with data collection from individuals, families, and service providers. This research will help facilitate a better understanding of the experiences of youth with the aim to learn how to better serve our community.

“We want to work collaboratively with the community, especially with our youth. Our intention is to have an open discussion with our youth, especially those in marginalized communities, to help us gain an understanding of what their unique needs are and how to provide the resources they need,” CMHA project coordinator Naaz Kaur Grewal said. “By having a conversation, we not only normalize getting support but also reduce the stigma surrounding suicide.”

Surveys are available for various people:

• Youth: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/youthmentalhealthY

• Parents: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/youthmentalhealthP

• Service providers/teachers: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/youthmentalhealthSCP

If you or someone you know is struggling with the thought of suicide, call the Interior Crisis Line Network at 1-888-363-CARE (2273) or use the chat service from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, accessible through interiorcrisisline.com.

READ MORE: Mental health disorders, suicide on the rise among Okanagan students

READ MORE: Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth


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