Ministry of Health announces $3 million in funding for suicide prevention programs

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Coinciding with Mental Illness Awareness Week, the B.C. Ministry of Health announced today it would be providing $3 million in funding to the Canadian Mental Health Association British Columbia Division, to support their work in suicide prevention.

“Suicide does not discriminate. It affects individuals young and old and their families in every corner of this province. Prevention is a shared responsibility and we all have the potential to make a difference and save a life,” Health Minister Terry Lake said in a release. “This funding will help train British Columbians to recognize the warning signs of suicide and take action to help someone who feels they are in a desperate situation.”

The new program will provide community-based training, using a model called “emergent gatekeeper” to educate gatekeepers on how to identify the signs of someone at risk of suicide.

“Whether a gatekeeper is a teen watching for warning signs among his friends, a teacher in a busy school who notices changes in one of her students, or a member of a church group who is connected to the community, this funding will help all of them to learn what to watch for and how to help those in need,” said Jane Thornthwaite, Parliamentary Secretary for Child Mental Health and Anti-Bullying in the release.

According to the press release, the program is expected to train 20,000 gatekeepers across the province by 2018, rolling out over the next three years. Programs will first be implemented in regions that show and interest, with province wide implement by the end of year three.

“I applaud the provincial government for providing this funding for the gatekeeper program,” said Brent Seal, mental health speaker and founder of Mavrixx. “I’m confident it will save lives and having lost friends to suicide and attempted it myself, it means a lot to see the government making suicide prevention a priority.”

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Shawn O'Hara Shawn is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. He loves writing about news, arts, movies, comedy, and culture. Some would argue Shawn is too old to still play Dungeons & Dragons. Shawn would disagree.

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