Increasing community awareness the focus of Suicide Prevention Day

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City of Ottawa

Councillor Diane Holmes, Board of Health Chair, praised the Community Suicide Prevention Network, the Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition and Ottawa Public Health for their ongoing efforts to increase community awareness about suicide prevention initiatives as she proclaimed September 10, 2012 Suicide Prevention Day in Ottawa on behalf of Mayor Jim Watson.

"It is my sincere hope that combined with the passion and tireless efforts of our community partners, this proclamation will raise greater awareness of suicide prevention initiatives, and highlight the importance of talking openly and directly about suicide prevention," said Councillor Holmes. "By proclaiming today Suicide Prevention Day in the City of Ottawa, we are also marking the 10th anniversary of World Suicide Prevention Day, an international effort to reduce the stigma and silence surrounding suicide."

Each year, on average, 50 people take their own lives in Ottawa. Recently released local data from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey also shows that mental health issues and suicide continue to be a problem among youth. The survey results for the 2010/11 school year show that one in three Ottawa students in grades 7 to12 reported elevated levels of psychological distress, and that more than one in ten considered suicide in the past year.

"Each suicide is a tragedy and a major public health concern," said Dr. Isra Levy, Medical Officer of Health. "Saving lives requires all of us to work together and support each other. Suicide prevention is a responsibility we share as a community. That's why I'm proud to be joined by our partners today in thanking the Mayor and the Ottawa Board of Health for shedding light on this important challenge."

Over a dozen community partners were present to witness the proclamation.

"Ottawa is a lead community in taking steps to prevent the tragedy of suicide, particularly among youth," said Joanne Lowe, Executive Director of the Youth Services Bureau and George Weber, CEO of the Royal, Co-Chairs of the Network. "With our new action plan and everyone at the table working together, we want to ensure that every young person in crisis can get help."

"The Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition is dedicated to making Ottawa a suicide safer community for every citizen," said Renée Ouimet, Director of Capacity Building and Education at the Canadian Mental Health Association. "On behalf of the Coalition, I want to thank Mayor Watson and Councillor Holmes for bringing us together today and highlighting the ongoing work of the Ottawa community in helping to prevent suicide."

For more information visit ottawa.ca/health or call Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656).