By Gillian Slade
Alta. Newspaper Group
The provincial government is giving more than $220,000 to Canadian Mental Health in Medicine Hat (CMHA) to support suicide prevention strategies.
Funding will support programs such as SafeTalk, Straight Talk and Tattered Teddies workshops offered to anyone interested in learning about the warning signs of suicide among adults, youth and children. There will also be a skills-based suicide prevention training program for the general public.
CMHA will also raise awareness about available suicide prevention resources such as Buddy Up, to encourage men to help each other and access services.
The families that are already accessing bereavement supports through private counselling will receive support to continue accessing these services.
In Medicine Hat the number of suicides this year has been particularly high.
“We are saddened by the recent suicides in Medicine Hat and want everyone to know there is hope and that suicide is a preventable tragedy,” said Erin Reeder, suicide prevention co-ordinator with CMHA. “We are committed to supporting those who need it and are hopeful this increase in services will provide the necessary suicide prevention education our community needs.”
Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, said he is “heartbroken for the community” and family and friends of those who have lost a loved one.
There are a variety of short- and long-term initiatives being taken to raise awareness about suicide prevention and mental health resources and how to access them locally through provincial and municipal governments, Alberta Health Services, CMHA, school divisions, Medicine Hat Police Service, RCMP and community groups.
“Over the past few months, our community in Medicine Hat has experienced heartbreaking loss, but it has also come together strongly to provide support and offer a hand to our friends and neighbours who have lost loved ones, and for that I am grateful,” said Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat
Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston says the Hat has been hit disproportionately hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and has experienced the loss of several men.
“The families and the community continue to grieve knowing that children are left without fathers, wives are without their husbands and parents are without their children. On behalf of the City of Medicine Hat, I thank the Government of Alberta for their contribution to our community. The funding for workshops and suicide prevention resources is greatly appreciated,” said Clugston.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or requires mental health support, help is available: Mental Health Helpline 1-877-303-2642, available 24/7. The service is free, confidential and anonymous. Call 911 in an emergency.