Sask NDP calls for provincial suicide prevention policy


The NDP is calling on the SaskParty government to implement a suicide prevention strategy.

Opposition deputy leader Nicole Sarauer says suicide is a serious issue and is the second leading cause of death among young people in Canada.

She adds the suicide rate for first nations people in Saskatchewan are four times that of non first nations.

Health minister Jim Reiter says the province recognizes the severity of the issue.

Reiter says his ministry is undergoing a full review of suicide prevention strategies in an effort to fill any gaps in service.

When speaking to reporters, Reiter said if and when they create a plan to prevent suicide, they need to see results.

“Whether you call it an action plan or calling it a strategy, to me what matters is what actions are you taking, what programs do you make available, where do you target your resources,” Reiter said. “That’s what I want to see, I want to see if other provinces have something that’s working well.”

He points out the province has focused serious financial support to addictions and mental health issues.

Northern Affairs critic Doyle Vermette has proposed Bill 618, which would force the provincial government to develop and implement a suicide prevention strategy.

Vermette said the strategy should be province-wide.

“At the end of the day, take time, what are the best practices, and what are other provinces doing?” Vermette said. “How can we work together? It doesn’t have to be blame, it just has to be ‘let’s work together at the end of the day,’ use the health region to make sure that they put out a report each year saying ‘did we achieve what we were trying to? Are we hearing what people are saying?”

Several family members and friends of those who have taken their own lives were at the Legislature Tuesday to stress the importance of the Bill.

One of those people was Linda Roberts, whose daughter Jadene Irving committed suicide at age 12 back in 2016.

Roberts said there needs to be support for children with mental illness.

“We need to help these youth,” Roberts said. “These youth are so important to us, they’re just screaming for our help.”

Since 2005, 2,200 people have committed suicide in Saskatchewan.

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