Despite funding boost, advocates say Canada has a mental health crisis  – NowToronto
May 5, 2017
Frank Van Nie, a member of the board of the Canadian Mental Health Association(CMHA), has organized the March for Mental Health for May 6, calling on all levels of government to increase funding and services for mental health care in Canada. He is frustrated by the lack of mental health services available in Canada and hopes this march will draw attention to this vital issue.  “It just hit me that we need to do something. We need to act,” he says. Despite a pledge of a $5 billion increase by the Federal government to support programs and initiatives over the next 10 years, it only amounts to about $14 per person per year, far too little in his estimation. The March for Mental Health is part of Mental Health Week, a campaign spearheaded by CMHA, with a week of events from on May 1 to 7.

‘Lifeline’ notes adorn High Level Bridge suicide barriers CBC
May 5, 2017
A woman and a group of friends who lost a friend to suicide three years ago have begun a project on the High Level Bridge in Edmonton which encourages passersby, those who have lost someone to suicide, and those who have contemplated suicide in the past, to leave notes for those who may come to the bridge with suicide on their minds.  There are four wooden boxes which contain blank paper and pens at each of the four entrances to the bridge. A message inside the box states “…lifelines for people contemplating suicide. Lifelines are for people contemplating suicide, for those left behind in the wake of suicide and for us all in this city of ours to have open conversations about something that is so often hidden.” The aim of the project is to  connect with those are distressed and give the message that “we can all cross the bridge together”.

Saving lives through ‘hello’: Regina welcomes province’s 1st Yellow Friendship Bench CBC
May 3, 2017
Regina’s Saskatchewan Polytechnic has installed Saskatchewan’s first Yellow Friendship Bench. It is intended to start more conversations around mental health and hopefully prevent suicide at the same time. The bench is one of 27 that have been installed at post-secondary campuses across the country over the past two years. The benches are donated from The Yellow Friendship Bench project which was started by Sam Fiorella whose son, Lucas, died by suicide at Carleton University in 2014. Lucas had experienced a lengthy bout of major depression which ultimately resulted in his suicide.

Northeast’s suicide rate nearing ‘crisis’ Sudbury Star
May 3, 2017
Mark King, chairman of the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB), says that despite the suicide rate in Northeastern Ontario being three times the provincial rate, the North East Local Health Integration Network isn’t tracking demand for services.”This is an urgent community issue in the district given the cuts to regional health care services and the lack of access to doctors, it has the potential to reach a crisis situation,” he says.
The lack of efficient tracking is adversely affecting the proper allocation of resources.Hospitals, mental health services, and other health-care providers are experiencing higher demand for their services.Timely access to mental health and addictions services is the No. 1 barrier for individuals requiring assistance.

What a TTC worker told a man on subway tracks to bring him back from brink – CBC
May 2, 2017
On April 26, John Paul Attard, a Toronto Transit Commission worker had an unforgettable experience at work. He saw a man lower himself onto the subway tracks at Dundas Station in Toronto, seemingly to harm himself. Attard says “his intuition kicked into gear immediately. Within seconds, he had the TTC cut power to the station”. He then reached out to the man himself and tried to talk him out of his distress. The conversation lasted about 20 minutes and he coaxed the man “back from the brink of suicide”.
This man was fortunate. Some 20 to 30 people jump in front of subway trains every year. About half of them die.
TTC spokesman Stuart Green says frontline personnel are trained on what to look for in someone contemplating suicide on the subway through what the TTC calls “the gatekeeper program.” He stresses that TTC takes suicide prevention very seriously.

Discrimination against two-spirit indigenous people linked to suicide crisis  – Waterloo Region Record
May 1, 2017
Ojibwa-Cree elder Ma-Nee Chacaby “came out” nearly 30 years ago and it was “a moment of relief after so many years of pain”. She says she was constantly bullied and harassed for identifying as “two-spirited”, a term many Indigenous peoples to describe someone who carries both a female and male in her body at the same time. She says she was bullied by both First Nations and white people which made it doubly hurtful.

Discrimination persists today toward Indigenous people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, queer and two-spirit, said Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.

Although it is generally known that certain Indigenous communities have a high suicide rate among their young people, there is a hesitancy to identify some of those who die as “related to oppression around gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Albert McLeod, the co-ordinator of Two-Spirited People of Manitoba. “It is a taboo conversation.”

Interestingly, this discrimination seems relatively recent. It is a direct result of the teachings of the residential schools and their dismissal of Indigenous beliefs and practices. Prior to colonialization, two-spirited people were viewed as “sacred”.

First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said “If there is discrimination, if there is intolerance, if there’s racism toward our two-spirited people, that has to end”. There are signs of hope, he said, noting that there was a two-spirit pride festival held last June by Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation in Saskatchewan.

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