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N.W.T. fishing camp creating community for active and veteran military membersCBC
November 17, 2023
Jocelyn Démétré served in Afghanistan and after his deployments, found that he struggled with adapting to normal life after being used to such a high adrenaline environment, like he had to “fill a hole.” Démétré says, “Instead of filling up that hole with alcohol, drugs … I go for hunting and fishing.”  Démétré created Hero Lodge 10 years ago in Yellowknife, which connects people to nature and peers, and each year has around 70 visitors, most of whom have served in the military, though the lodge is open to anyone. “I think we saved a few lives over there for sure,” says Démétré. Marc Fortier, a veteran who stayed at the lodge, says he left feeling different. “The chemistry happens right away,” Fortier said. “There are things left unsaid that we all understand.” Fortier says it helps a lot to talk with peers about his experiences in the Canadian Forces, more so than with family.

Nunavut MLA renews calls to declare territorial suicide emergency
November 15, 2023
Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, MLA for Iqaluit-Sinaa, is calling for Nunavut to declare a state of emergency due to high suicide rates in the territory (5 to 25 times higher than the rest of Canada). In the Nunavut legislature last week Brewster said, “The value of any state of emergency or public health emergency, we know from our experience with COVID that resources get pulled together in order to help address an issue.” She also called for a whole-government approach – one that engages the education system, family services, and housing to improve lives and create opportunities, “We absolutely must create a healthier Nunavut so that people want to live and we need to address the issue …  and invest in everything that we can in order to break that cycle.”

Inside the ‘pressure cooker’: 4 deaths in 24 hours open up conversation about suicides among police CNN
November 12, 2023
In the context of a recent suicide cluster in the Los Angeles Police Department, this article talks about factors in police officer suicides. In the US, police officers have a suicide rate over 50% higher than the general population. The LAPD in particular is short staffed, adding to the stress felt by officers and in general, police rarely seek help for fear of how their jobs may be impacted. Richard Pippin, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, says, “They know the department has liability concerns when it comes to sending a person out in public with a gun while knowing they’re experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties.” There is a resulting stigma around mental health in police culture. Police are also exposed to many potentially traumatic events in the course of their careers. Charles Ramsey, former chief of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC says,  “To see something like (a gruesome crime), it’s just not normal. So, what do you do? You push it down. You suppress any emotion. But it doesn’t mean it’s not there, and if it goes untreated, over time, it builds up.” In recent years, in the US, police have slowly been opening up to talk about mental health and PTSD, and some departments are making mental health help more accessible. For example, the Philadelphia Police Department has implemented mandatory mental health check-ups, finding that officers often voluntarily came back for follow-up appointments.

Widow of veteran who died by suicide outside Alberta legislature shares his storyEdmonton Journal
November 11, 2023
**Language and graphic method warning, use of the word ‘commit’** Veteran Ken Chan, 62, died by suicide in 2019 in front of the Alberta legislature, and this Remembrance Day, his widow Judy Chan is opening up about his life. Chan says of Ken, “He was always helping people. He did a lot of volunteering, and he was always donating for this and that… He was the most gentle soul you ever would have met. Everything we did was together — we always finished each other’s sentences.” Ken was born to Chinese immigrants in Montreal and, due to his mother’s health problems, Ken went into foster care before entering the military as an adult. Upon retirement from the military, Ken experienced a “bad case” of Bell’s palsy, and in the years leading up to his death, he had withdrawn from family. In memory of Ken, Chan has donated to help veterans in Edmonton.