A suicide prevention strategy has been adopted by city council’s community and public services committee after several people came forward urging them to play a role in preventing untimely deaths.
Nadeen Laboucane works in emergency communications, in the highly stressed call centre environment that serves central Alberta. She handles calls, as many recently as five during a 12 hour shift. She told the councillors her reaction when this past February, she was told by her supervisors not to report for duty.
“I wasn’t very happy being told not to come to work,” Laboucane said. “That was kind of almost my safe place sort of thing, and I derailed I guess. I was kind of too out of control at that time and I took an entire one month’s of two different prescribed medications and rendered myself unconscious in my vehicle in the parking lot.”
She was found by RCMP and after the incident became public with her co-workers and friends, many reached out to her to let her know they were there for her.
It’s that engagement that Coun. Bev Esslinger wants to see more of. She knows first hand as well what stress, and undetected mental health issues can cause.
“My brother took his own life a few years ago,” she told reporters with tears welling up in her eyes. “He was a father of two children and that was how he resolved his personal issues. That’s why it is important to me. It impacted my family, my siblings, my parents, everybody struggled with it. And I think you always wish you had said something or knew, and I don’t think we always know.”
Edmonton will help coordinate efforts with Alberta Health Services and other partners. Mark Snaterse, AHS’ executive director for addiction and mental health said they will spend this next year improving access to services, as well as continue efforts on early intervention, and on helping kids in schools.
“A big strategy of ours in Edmonton is to make system navigation easier,” Snaterse said of work they hope to do this year on the website. “We have some ideas on how we can do that over this next year. Quite frankly I think we have a lot of services but it’s difficult for the public to find out where to go to access what they need.”
“I see the city as being the facilitator as bringing a lot of these groups together. They did an excellent job in the development of the strategy and I can’t help but think they’ll do an excellent job in the implementation as well.”
The most recent reliable stats the city has, say there were 117 deaths by suicide here in 2013.
You can read the city report by clicking here and going to item 6.1