‘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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Smithers only taxi company closing down

BV Taxi parking its cars at the end of January

Coastal GasLink repeats desire for meeting with hereditary chiefs

Coastal GasLink says they’re ready to meet with the hereditary chiefs at their convenience

Poll suggests some don’t think Canada should send troops to stop genocide

The findings are being released just before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to give refund to B.C. buyer due to puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

UPDATED: Man dies in backcountry near Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Cariboo Memorial Hospital on the mend after cold weather wreaks havoc

Burst pipes and water leaks cause three different incidents

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

Site of planned Jumbo Valley ski resort to be protected, managed by First Nations

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Most Read