‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Children’s advocates from across the country are urging the federal government to create a national strategy to deal with what they are calling a youth suicide crisis.

“I’ve sat with parents and family members overwhelmed with the grief of losing their child to suicide. And I keep thinking it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Del Graff, president of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates.

“We have to find ways to stop this and it’s time to take action.”

The council, which includes members from nearly every province and territory, released a research paper on youth suicide during a national meeting in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Graff, who is also Alberta’s child and youth advocate, said suicide is the second most common cause of death for young people and the rates are highest among Indigenous children and youth. However, Canada is the only G7 country without a national plan.

He encouraged all political party leaders during the ongoing federal election campaign to outline how they would tackle youth suicide.

“As Canadians we ought to be able to demand more,” he said.

Advocates from across the country have individually been looking into alarming suicide rates in their regions, Graff said. The latest report brings together that research in a national overview.

It says childhood trauma and experience with the child-welfare system play a role. Many youths feel they were not being heard.

“Until Canada takes concrete action on the moral and economic imperative of investing in children through a national suicide strategy, our children will continue to die while waiting,” the report says.

It is difficult to understand just how many children and youth are affected across the country, the report says, because of under-reporting and inconsistencies in how different areas collect information. Between 2013 and 2017, at least 1,174 youth between eight and 19 years old killed themselves.

ALSO READ: Coroner reports decrease in suicide rates across B.C.

ALSO READ: Better suicide prevention needed for B.C. youth, group says

The council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory and to develop cross-jurisdictional data collection.

The advocates also say the federal government must engage with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities, which have higher suicide rates.

Lisa Broda, Saskatchewan’s deputy children’s advocate, said that in her province Indigenous girls were 29 times more likely to commit suicide than their non-Indigenous counterparts and Indigenous boys were six times more likely.

Six young girls between the ages of 10 and 14 took their lives in Northern Saskatchewan in one month in 2016.

One Manitoba First Nation recently called a state of emergency after four deaths and 22 attempts in the summer.

Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth Daphne Penrose said the numbers of youth taking their lives is shocking.

Children in this country should have a right to quality mental health services when they need them, but that’s not always the case, Penrose added. She called the results “catastrophic.”

“We need to turn rights into realities for children, because our children deserve them. We have a responsibility to raise children and to provide them what they need.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP talks throne speech, USMCA trade deal

Rob Morrison to open constituency office in Cranbrook at 800C Baker St. on Dec. 19

Weekly RCMP report

Some of the more interesting callouts for Columbia Valley RCMP Dec 2-8th:

Handmade with love and holiday memories

Creating your own Christmas gifts and memories made easy and fun at local shops

Local artist featured on Taynton tea

High school student Kate Hale’s painting featured on local tea tins

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Most Read