While COVID has grabbed headlines, there is another public health crisis happening in our community that far fewer people are willing to talk about – suicide. In Stony Plain and the Tri-Region, suicide has claimed the lives of people young and old, from diverse backgrounds and across socio-economic lines and has left a lasting impact on many others. The fact is: anyone can find themselves experiencing suicidal thoughts.

But there is hope.

Preventing suicide is possible. Our community has joined forces with ten others, to become early adopters of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Roots of Hope suicide prevention program - a “Made in Canada” suicide prevention program that is set to become a national strategy for suicide prevention.

Being part of Roots of Hope gives our community access to pools of knowledge, evidence-based approaches, and a community of practice group to support and share initiatives.  Suicide prevention is not a one-size-fits all prescription which is why communities small and large from all over Canada have been chosen to help assess the program and to influence what opportunities still exist in the strategy.

We can’t solve a problem as complex as suicide overnight – we know that there are so many different factors at play. For example, many people who die by suicide have sought medical support in the six months before they take their own lives, so working with doctors and health care professionals is crucial.  

We also know that many suicide attempts take place during a short-term crisis, so creating barriers to access to means for suicide – otherwise known as ‘means prevention’ – will translate to fewer completed suicides. 

Ensuring everyone from community leaders and health care professionals to community members know the signs of suicide and how to have that difficult conversation, is also an important part of knitting tighter safety nets.  

Suicide prevention starts with engagement – bringing on community members with passion and drive to help raise awareness and support the development of key priorities for implementation in community.  

Roots of Hope provides us with an opportunity to enhance the well-being of everyone in our community. It can only flourish if we bring our collective experiences to the table. 

We have an opportunity to save lives that might otherwise be lost. That’s worth putting down roots for.

Roots of Hope: National Suicide Prevention Strategy Logo