NDP leader, health minister talk suicide prevention

Saskatoon, Estevan – Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and Saskatchewan politicians of both sides of the political spectrum made comments about it.

NDP Leader Ryan Meili said in an emailed statement, “As we mark World Suicide Prevention Day, I think of people like Samwel Uko, who died needlessly after being turned away from the ER.

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“I think of Tristen Durocher and the Walking With Our Angels group – a group the Sask. Party preferred to take to court instead of engaging in conversations about the far too many First Nations children who have been lost to suicide.

“And I think of a Sask. Party government that was the first government in the country to vote down implementing a suicide prevention strategy.

“There are glaring holes in mental health and addictions treatment in our province and it’s costing Saskatchewan people their lives. We need to do better.

“The first step to solving an issue is to admit that you have a problem — and we have a problem with suicide in Saskatchewan.

“To solve it, the province needs to implement a suicide prevention strategy and establish a public inquiry to examine the high rates of suicide in Saskatchewan and the devastating impact it has on families and communities.

“Let’s be clear: there is a suicide crisis in Saskatchewan. The people of Saskatchewan deserve a government that cares enough to actually do something about it,” Meili concluded.

Suicide prevention has been a topic raised numerous times over the past several months by Meili.

Minister of Health Jim Reiter was at the grand opening of the new St. Joseph’s Addiction Recovery Centre, in Estevan, whose purpose it principally the treatment of crystal methamphetamine addiction. Asked about Suicide Prevention Day, Reiter said, “You saw recently, I believe it was in May, we announced the Pillars For Life, the suicide prevention plan. This is a this is a difficult issue. And as you mentioned, it's you know, it's the national day.

“All provinces are grappling with this, and certainly our numbers are far, far too high. So you're seeing the Pillars For Life plan, you're also seeing it's intertwined really with mental health and addictions in general. You're seeing record numbers of resources going into mental health and addictions this year. With the increase of $33 million this year were to about $435 million spent on mental health and addictions. Obviously, we know we need to do more, but it's been a priority for some time now. And you're going to continue to see resources flowing into that.”

Additionally, the government put out a press release noting, “Pillars for Life: The Saskatchewan Suicide Prevention Plan was released in May 2020.  This plan coordinates activities to promote life and reduce risk factors related to suicide in our province.

“The plan complements broader activities recommended in Saskatchewan’s Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan. It includes public awareness efforts aimed at northern Indigenous youth, a population with a suicide rate significantly higher than the general youth population. The five-pillar plan is a starting point for Saskatchewan as we seek to address needs and express our support for work already being done within Saskatchewan’s communities.”

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