Care enhanced for people at risk of suicide, facing mental-health crisis

September 22, 2022 at 12:12 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People experiencing mental-health challenges, particularly thoughts of suicide and self-harm, will benefit from improved quality of care in mental-health and substance-use treatment settings, such as emergency departments.

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 suicidal.

“When people are in a mental-health crisis, we want them to receive the best possible care,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “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.” 

The initiative will develop a provincial framework for suicide care based on established international best practices, local clinical knowledge and expertise, as well as the perspectives of people with lived experience. This will ensure care settings throughout British Columbia will have access to care-provider training, standardized intake screening, management strategies and followup care aimed at reducing suicide deaths. The changes will bring quality improvement to care settings in all health authorities.

“This significant investment demonstrates a commitment to improving quality in care for people in crisis,” said Jonathan Morris, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division (CMHA BC). “Health-care settings like the emergency department offer important opportunities to prevent suicide. CMHA BC is looking forward to continuing our ongoing partnership alongside people with lived experience, health authorities and the Province to transform crisis care for the better.”

Each regional health authority will also receive funding to support evidence-based suicide prevention strategies that address unique priorities and gaps in care for people who may be suicidal.

Enhancing mental-health supports is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for building a comprehensive system of mental-health and addictions care for British Columbians.


Leah Hollins, board chair, Vancouver Island Health Authority –

“Suicide care is an area where we can and must improve the support we provide to people at risk of suicide or self-harm. These investments in mental-health supports will provide our staff with enhanced knowledge and better tools to respond to Island Health clients’ and families’ unique needs for support, treatment and care.”

Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill –

“When people are experiencing a mental-health crisis, we want to make sure that they get high-quality care. These improvements will help people across the province get the support they need and deserve on their healing journey.”

Leslie Bonshor, vice-president of Indigenous health, Vancouver Costal Health (VCH) –

“I am looking forward to in-depth collaboration with our partners to develop and inform a comprehensive, strategic approach to addressing suicide amongst people of all ages that we serve, and to use evidence and best and promising practices to shape and inform this plan. We are fortunate to have expertise within VCH to guide our work with Indigenous peoples in addressing suicide, and have experience and knowledge of land-based healing and cultural practices that can help shape and ground programming and interventions. We will bring the best of all modalities together to create a sustainable responsive plan for all, starting with Indigenous youth and in collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners in the region.”

Quick Facts:

  • The BC Coroner’s Office reports that there were 582 suicide deaths investigated in B.C. in 2021, down from 597 in 2020 and 634 in 2019.
  • International research shows that the time after discharge from psychiatric in-patient care is a period of high risk for suicide.
  • In Canada, men account for 75% of suicides.
  • In the United Kingdom, post-discharge suicides make up 17% of all patient suicide deaths.

Learn More:

Learn about A Pathway to Hope, government’s vision for mental-health and addictions care in B.C.:

Canadian Mental Health Association:

Mental-health supports:

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