EDMUNDSTON (GNB) – The provincial government is partnering with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Vitalité Health Network to launch a community suicide prevention project in northwestern New Brunswick.

“We are taking action with our partners to ensure proper support and services are in place for those with mental health challenges,” said Health Minister Benoit Bourque. “Suicide can be prevented through better understanding, combined with evidence-based prevention programs. This project will help people in this region get the support they need.”

The project aims to build upon community expertise with guidance from mental health experts in the province, as well as from across the country, to implement and test suicide prevention interventions in the Edmundston, Grand Falls, Saint-Quentin region.

“I am delighted that the Government of New Brunswick has signed onto our national initiative Roots of Hope, a community suicide prevention project,” said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. “This collaboration will not only benefit residents of the northwestern region by adapting proven suicide prevention solutions in a sustainable way, but will also help establish a set of evidence-based recommendations, tools and resources to be shared with all provinces and territories as part of a national suicide prevention effort.”

There are five primary focus areas for the project:

  • Specialized support – a range of prevention, crisis, and post crisis services such as crisis lines and support groups.
  • Training and networks – access to training to better equip professionals in the community including physicians, first responders, nurses, human resource staff and teachers.
  • Public awareness – local information campaigns to promote mental health awareness.
  • Means restriction – identify the methods or places where a high number of suicides occur and implement measures to restrict access to these methods.
  • Research – increase the suicide prevention evidence base.

“Mental illness does not choose its hosts according to their age, sex or social conditions: that is why it is important to stop the stigma and societal judgment that can hinder a person’s recovery,” said Rino Lang, regional director of addiction and mental health services at Vitalité Health Network. “This demonstration project with the Mental Health Commission of Canada aims to establish strategies to break the barrier of silence in order to reach out and give hope to people who are living some of the most difficult moments of their lives, whether they have suicidal thoughts or are living a personal crisis. The new program is also consistent with one of the areas of focus of our Strategic Plan 2017-2020, which aims to improve mental health services.”

The provincial government is contributing $400,000 towards this five-year project which falls under the New Brunswick Family Plan framework.

The New Brunswick Family Plan framework focuses government action in seven priority areas: improving access to primary and acute care; promoting wellness; supporting people with addictions and mental health challenges; fostering healthy aging and support for seniors; advancing women’s equality; reducing poverty; and supporting people with disabilities.