National Suicide Prevention Strategy: A Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

Growing Momentum for the Development of National Suicide Prevention Strategies: A Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada

National suicide prevention strategies aim to establish a coordinated and sustained multi-sectoral approach to the prevention of suicide, yet only around 40 countries currently have a formalised national strategy to reduce suicides. Suicide continues be a leading cause of death globally and the world is currently not on track to achieving the one third reduction in suicide mortality rates as laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Suicide prevention experts and stakeholders from around the world are increasing awareness around the need for national strategies towards preventing suicides through the Partnerships for Life Initiative, established by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). The initiative acts as a global collaborative forum supporting the development of a comprehensive, strategic approach to suicide prevention through National Suicide Prevention Strategies.  

Positive calls from within Canada to build on national suicide prevention efforts are part of this growing momentum. A letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, relevant Ministers and all major political parties expressing support for the development of a National Suicide Prevention Strategy to unify and strengthen existing efforts in reducing suicide within the country was signed by 128 leading experts from 30 countries. It was also endorsed by the Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionSuicide Prevention Ottawa, and all members of the Association of Chairs of Psychiatry in Canada

The advocacy letter, delivered today to the Prime Minister’s office, emphasizes the opportunity Canada has, as a leading G7 nation, to become a world leader in national suicide prevention. Experts underscored the critical need for a coordinated cross-sectoral strategy, led at the federal level, that addresses the multifaceted challenges surrounding suicide prevention.  

Dr. Mark Sinyor, Regional Programme Lead for Partnerships For Life in the Americas and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto is optimistic that the growing efforts within Canada could lead to a National Suicide Prevention Strategy in the near future.

“We are hopeful that this call will add momentum to Canadian efforts to enhance existing support for suicide prevention like the recent 3-digit (988) national crisis line number.  Canada needs a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention and we are now well positioned to make that a reality.” Dr Mark Sinyor, University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.

Alongside the Partnerships for Life Initiative, The International Association for Suicide Prevention continues to promote and advocate for the development of coordinated strategies, or efforts towards them. IASP’s Policy Position recommends that every country should adopt, or make progress towards the adoption of, a national suicide prevention strategy aimed at reducing rates of suicidal behaviour.  

“Suicide is a global public health concern, and as experts committed to saving lives, we recognise the significance of a concerted effort on a national level. Efforts such as this from Canada present a real opportunity for positive change.” Professor Rory O’Connor, President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

Partnerships for Life networks are active in each of the six WHO regions, identifying contacts in over 60% of countries, in the context of a global five-year programme that takes into account the stage of suicide prevention strategy development in each country. The initiative is led by a steering group chaired by Professor Stephen Platt. For more information, click here. 

For those in media, please ensure you list Canada’s new 9-8-8 crisis number when reporting on suicide prevention. It is available 24/7 by phone or text. We also recommend media follow the recommended guidelines when reporting on suicide. Read more here.