January 25th, 2017

// Let’s talk about the prevalence of youth suicide and take action, say Ontario Psychiatrists

Let's talk about the prevalence of youth suicide and take action, say Ontario Psychiatrists

Report shows that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of young people 

Suicide is the leading cause of death among Canadians age 15 to 34, after car accidents, says an alarming report from Ontario Psychiatrists. But unlike car accidents, the report identifies that the number of suicides across Canada has remained unchanged for more than four decades, with 70 per cent of mental health issues starting in childhood and suicide accounting for 24 per cent of all deaths among young people.  Ontario Psychiatrists are calling for immediate action, releasing a report that makes strong recommendations and calls on government to mend system gaps and reduce the risk of suicide among Canadian youth.

"Despite the prevalence of mental illness and suicide among young Canadians, today's society is still facing challenges around stigma and access to services making it far too hard for our youth to get the care they need," said Dr. Diana Kljenak, Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "Heroic efforts by Bell Let's Talk and others within our health care system, government and communities are made everyday to encourage discussion around suicide and mental illness, but we need action. Now."

The report Stemming the Tide: Strengthening youth suicide prevention in Ontario and in Canadawas developed by Ontario Psychiatrists with input from Ontario policy analysts, national mental health organizations, clinicians, researchers, as well as psychiatrists and individuals with lived experience with suicide. Outlining the current state of mental health and youth suicide, the report points to system gaps and funding issues as areas in need of improvement.

Ontario Psychiatrists identify the need for greater leadership on the issue and list seven challenges and recommendations to address the problem of youth suicide:

  1. Invest in better mental health support for children.
  2. Close the system gaps.
  3. Build better care coordination and service alignment.
  4. Improve the collection and quality of data.
  5. Provide better access to funding.
  6. Provide better support for parents, families, caregivers and communities.
  7. Invest in child and youth mental health research.

"The federal and Ontario government have agreed that our mental health system needs to improve in order to meet the needs of Canadians whether they are in crisis, at risk of crisis or averted a crisis," said Dr. Gary Chaimowitz, Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "Suicide is a symptom of mental illness. By taking action to address mental illness and improving access to treatment, we will improve care and reduce the suicide rate among young Canadians."

About the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists: The Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists is a formal partnership of the Ontario Psychiatric Association and the Section on Psychiatry of the Ontario Medical Association. The Coalition represents over 1,900 psychiatrists in Ontario. One of the Coalition's primary goals is to advocate for improved mental health services in Ontario and to work with other stakeholders and government to develop better policy. Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and provide high quality mental health services to Ontarians.

SOURCE Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists


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