Today, representatives from Niagara Region, Niagara Region Public Health, City of St. Catharines, Niagara Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) met to develop appropriate actions to respond to recent suicide-related deaths and the broader issue of suicide prevention in Niagara.
Our organizations take the mental health and well-being of our residents and the ongoing need for effective suicide prevention very seriously. Recent deaths in Niagara have further highlighted this important health challenge that we face across the region and Ontario. We share the community’s grief over these recent losses and a desire for action to address the mental health needs of our residents.
What is clear is that mental health challenges like this are not new and the appropriate responses are varied and often complex. Local mental health agencies and additional community partners, including the Niagara Suicide Prevention Coalition (formed in 2003 and representing over 25 local agencies and members at large), are regularly working to ensure that there are resources available for those in need, particularly for those in crisis, and we are grateful for their leadership and expertise.
Working in collaboration with local providers and the Niagara Suicide Prevention Coalition, this newly formed stakeholder table will review a range of suicide prevention strategies, including infrastructure changes (such as ‘help line’ signage, barriers and netting), increased awareness of mental health outreach and crisis services and the importance of reducing stigma and isolation of those with mental health concerns. We look forward to working with the Mental Health organizations to ensure that strategies considered are effective and will have a meaningful impact to the safety of our community in all the places and locations where suicide occurs.
This week, the group is working on a technical assessment to gather detailed information from first responders, Public Works staff, external bridge consultants and community mental health partners. Our goal is to use research evidence to best focus our efforts and resources, including consideration of preventative barriers or netting. Additionally we are already in dialogue with representatives from the Niagara Suicide Prevention Coalition to ensure that our efforts align with best practice and with their efforts already underway.
Niagara Region is taking immediate action to install signs at key locations around Niagara that will provide mental health crisis support information. In addition, the Niagara Regional Police Service will increase vigilance in downtown St. Catharines.
The group will meet again on Oct. 17, with representatives from the Niagara Suicide Prevention Coalition, and a further update will be provided at that time.
FOR IMMEDIATE RISK CALL 9-1-1
If you are in crisis or know someone who may be in crisis contact
COAST/Mental Health and Addictions Access Line: 1-866-550-5205 (for adults)
Pathstone Mental Health 24-hr Crisis Line: 1-800-263-4944 (for children & youth)
905-980-6000 ext. 3742