People at risk of suicide and self-harm to get enhanced care, province says

WATCH: A major announcement from the BC government Thursday morning. The province is committing $ 2 million to support people who are at risk of suicide. Jasmine Bala has the details.

People living with mental-health challenges, particularly those with thoughts of suicide and self-harm, will now have access to “improved quality of care in mental-health and substance-use treatments,” the provincial government announced Thursday morning.

In a press conference, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson said the province is investing $2 million to support an initiative that will create “provincewide standards and training to improve care in the health-care system for people who may be


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“When people are in a mental-health crisis, we want them to receive the best possible care,” Malcolmson said.

“That’s why our government is making system-wide improvements to transform care for those experiencing mental-health crises and suicidal thoughts. We’re supporting health-care professionals so that they have the tools they need to provide the best possible care for people and reduce suicide deaths.”

Emergency departments around the province will be able to treat people who are experiencing serious mental health issues, especially ones with thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

The initiative will develop a system that is geared toward suicide care based on “established international best practices, local clinical knowledge and expertise, as well as the perspectives of people with lived experiences,” according to the B.C. government.

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“This significant investment demonstrates a commitment to improving quality care for people in crisis,” said Jonathan Morris, Canadian Mental Health Association B.C. division’s CEO.

“Health-care settings like the emergency department offer important opportunities to prevent suicide.”

Each health authority in the province will also be receiving funding to support “evidence-based suicide prevention strategies” that will be developed to address priorities and gaps in care.

“People experiencing suicidal feelings have unique needs. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment or care when people are experiencing a mental-health crisis,” Leah Hollins, Island Health’s chair said.

“These investments will allow us to better support our clients and their families by providing our staff with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to effectively care for people in crisis.”

The BC Coroner’s Office reported that there were 582 suicide deaths investigated in 2021.

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