Sui­cide pre­ven­tion pro­to­col be­ing de­vel­oped

The Niagara Falls Review - - Front Page - AL­LAN BEN­NER

Signs will be in­stalled at key lo­ca­tions through­out Ni­a­gara, pro­vid­ing men­tal health cri­sis sup­port in­for­ma­tion in an im­me­di­ate ef­fort to pre­vent fu­ture sui­cides.

Ni­a­gara Re­gional Po­lice will also in­crease pa­trols in down­town St. Catharines, and a “newly formed stake­holder ta­ble will re­view a range of sui­cide pre­ven­tion strate­gies” in­clud­ing in­stalling bar­ri­ers and net­ting in ar­eas were sui­cides have oc­curred, while also work­ing to in­crease aware­ness about men­tal health out­reach and cri­sis ser­vices, and re­duc­ing stigma and iso­la­tion that peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues of­ten en­dure.

Those ini­tia­tives were an­nounced Thurs­day af­ter­noon, in a joint state­ment fol­low­ing a meet­ing that morn­ing that in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ni­a­gara Re­gion, the City of St. Catharines, Ni­a­gara Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices and Ni­a­gara Re­gional Po­lice to dis­cuss the is­sues af­ter two sui­cides oc­curred on the Bur­goyne Bridge in less than a week.

The state­ment says the “re­cent deaths in Ni­a­gara have fur­ther high­lighted this im­por­tant health chal­lenge that we face across the re­gion and On­tario.”

“We share the com­mu­nity’s grief over these re­cent losses and a de­sire for ac­tion to ad­dress the men­tal health needs of our res­i­dents.” The agen­cies will also work col­lab­o­ra­tively with lo­cal men­tal

health ser­vice providers and the Ni­a­gara Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Coali­tion, “to en­sure that strate­gies con­sid­ered are ef­fec­tive and will have a mean­ing­ful im­pact to the safety of our com­mu­nity in all the places and lo­ca­tions where sui­cide oc­curs.”

The group will meet again next Wed­nes­day af­ter spend­ing the next sev­eral days work­ing with first re­spon­ders, pub­lic works staff, con­sul­tants and men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als to re­search the best way to ad­dress the prob­lems — in­clud­ing the po­ten­tial of in­stalling sui­cide pre­ven­tion bar­ri­ers.

Al­though Path­stone Men­tal Health ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Shaun Baylis said he was not in­formed about the meet­ing, he said he was pleased to learn that it had taken place.

“What they’re do­ing, with re­gard to hav­ing a pro­to­col be­ing de­vel­oped — that is ab­so­lutely awe­some,” Baylis said. “That’s fab­u­lous.”

He said Path­stone Men­tal Health has been part of the Ni­a­gara Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Coali­tion in the past, and “we’d be happy to sup­port and con­trib­ute in any ca­pac­ity on this thing.”

Mean­while, St. Catharines MPP Jen­nie Stevens said her of­fice has con­tacted the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion, hop­ing to de­ter­mine if any pro­vin­cial fund­ing can be pro­vided to help cover the costs of in­stalling sui­cide pre­ven­tion bar­ri­ers.

“In my opin­ion, bar­ri­ers and nets have proven to be suc­cess­ful,” she said, re­fer­ring to net­ting that has been in­stalled on bridges over the QEW in Toronto.

“They saw their sui­cide rates drop af­ter the net­ting was in­stalled … In my mind, it’s worth putting up pre­ven­tion net­ting and bar­ri­ers.”

Stevens also called for in­creased fund­ing for men­tal health ser­vices in Ni­a­gara.

Rather than in­stalling bar­ri­ers, Ni­a­gara Cen­tre MPP Jeff Burch said he’d rather fo­cus on pre­ven­tion.

“The root causes are re­ally men­tal health, poverty and ad­dic­tion,” he said. “Those are the things that should be dealt with.”

Burch, too, said the prov­ince needs to in­crease fund­ing for men­tal health pro­grams, “and we’re still wait­ing for safe in­jec­tion sites and things like that” to ad­dress the opi­oid cri­sis in the area.

“The gov­ern­ment is re­ally drag­ging its feet on things that can help peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing from men­tal health prob­lems and is­sues re­lated to poverty. Those are the root causes and those are the things we need to pay at­ten­tion to.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.