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Richmond centre among crisis centre network to benefit from funding

A $2 million investment funding will be used towards a new suicide prevention initiative.
Suicide Prevention
Sept 10

A new $2 million investment for a province-wide initiative aims to improve care for people who may be suicidal in Richmond and across B.C.

Richmond’s crisis line centre, Chimo Community Services, is one of many BC Crisis Line Network centres benefitting from the initiative.

The program will include care-provider training, standardized intake screening, management strategies and follow-up care to reduce suicide deaths.

In an email to the Richmond News, Stacy Ashton, chair of the BC Crisis Line Network, said the goal is to get the health care system in B.C. to “see suicidality as a potentially lethal symptom” that requires treatment despite not knowing the cause.

According to the BC Coroner’s Office, 634 suicide deaths were investigated in 2019 and the number has since gone down to 597 in 2020 and 582 in 2021.

“Currently, suicide is assessed as part of a psychiatric illness,” said Ashton.

“If the psychiatric indicators aren’t there, suicidality is assumed to be ‘safe,’ and no further intervention will be needed. But only half of folks who die by suicide have clinically significant psychiatric symptoms, so it leaves a big gap.”

A patient is at high risk for suicide during the period after discharge from psychiatric care according to Canadian Mental Health Association of B.C. (CMHABC) in a media statement.

CMHABC hopes the newly funded initiative will change this and improve care settings in all health authorities.

Leslie Bonshor, vice-president of Indigenous health at VCH, said she is looking forward to in-depth collaboration with partners to develop a plan to reduce suicide deaths.

“We are fortunate to have expertise within VCH to guide our work with Indigenous peoples in addressing suicide and have experience and knowledge of land-based healing and cultural practices that can help shape and ground programming and interventions,” said Bonshor.

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