While some of us are thinking “Thank God it’s Friday,” others are hanging on by a thread. But there’s help in Surrey for people who need it.
Today (Sept. 10) marks World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association is working to raise awareness about it and efforts to prevent it. According to the association, 3.4 million Canadians 12 years and older suffer from suicidal thoughts each year and on any given day, statistically speaking, 10 people die at their own hand while another 200 attempt to kill themselves.
People feeling lonely, overwhelmed or who are experiencing suicidal thoughts can call the Fraser Health Crisis Line at 604-951-8855, or toll-free at 1-877-820–7444), for help 24 hours a day, every day. A service that’s there for people of all ages, trained volunteers listen and provide immediate, free and anonymous emotional support, as well as crisis intervention and information on resources that are available in the community.
Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death among adults in Canada and second leading cause of death for children and other young people.
In Surrey alone, Surrey Mounties between January and June of this year attended 3,064 calls related to mental health, with 862 of those involving suicidal people.
“Any death that happens outside hospital, we attend,” Cpl. Vanessa Munn explained. “And if it’s not a suspicious death, it’s turned over to the coroners service so then the coroners service will do their investigation, whether they rule it a suicide. They do ultimately make the final determination on cause of death.
“If criminality is determined not to be a factor in the death, it’s turned over to them and they make the final determination on the actual cause of death.”
Often police are the first on scene to assist when someone is in crisis. The Surrey RCMP and Fraser Health together provide the Car 67 program, where police officers and psychiatric nurses together respond to calls. Between January and June 2021, Car 67 teams attended 338 calls in this city.
The pandemic, of course, has proved to be a profound source of stress to most people. Last December, the Fraser Health Authority issued a series of tips on how to stay mentally well during this time of Covid-19. It recommended for people to pace themselves, get rest, to find “bits of hope every day, even in small doses,” and to seek help when needed.
“It’s normal to feel anxious and afraid. Some of us are struggling more than others. We have to recognize that none of us are the same person we were prior to the pandemic,” Dr. Marietta Van Den Berg, psychiatrist and physician quality lead for Fraser Health, said at the time. “But, we have to remember we are not the first generation to experience a pandemic, crisis or war, and we will get through this together.”
The BC Coroners Service notes that “suicide data” and trends for 2020-21 should be “interpreted with caution as the data require time to settle,” and cases now classified as undetermined might require updating during the course of further investigation. According to the coroners service, in B.C. there were 543 suicides from April 2020 to February 2021, marking a 12 per cent decrease in cases compared to the period from April 2019 to February 2020, which recorded 610 deaths.
In the Fraser Health Authority, which contains Surrey, there were 188 suicides in 2019, 166 last year. Between April 2019 and Feb. 2020 in Fraser Health there were 174 suicides compared to 139 during the period from April 2020 to Feb. 2021.