FREDERICTON (CNB) – The provincial government is inviting New Brunswickers to observe February as Suicide Prevention Month.

“The purpose of this month-long effort is to promote awareness about suicide prevention by encouraging dialogue and by reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and with suicidal thoughts or feelings,” said Health Minister Madeleine Dubé. “New Brunswickers are encouraged to learn the warning signs of suicide; to reach out to those who need help; and to ensure their own mental wellness.

“Social connectedness, problem solving skills and having a supportive network of family and friends are all important factors when dealing with feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.”

Those who are in need of assistance are encouraged to:

●    contact family or friends;
●    consult their family doctor;
●    call CHIMO at 1-800-667-5005; or
●    contact the nearest mental health centre.

In the 2010-11 fiscal year, CHIMO, a provincially-supported crisis line, received 8,251 calls. This included a record number of calls from men, 56 per cent as compared to 2006-07 when men accounted for only 39 per cent of callers. Since statistics show more men die by suicide than women, the fact that more men are contacting CHIMO is a positive step toward breaking down the barriers New Brunswick men might experience in reaching out for help.

“Last spring I unveiled the Action Plan for Mental Health in New Brunswick 2011-2018, which serves as a roadmap for improving mental health services in our province and makes specific commitments to addressing the issue of suicide,” said Dubé. “As part of this plan, 14 regional suicide prevention committees are being co-ordinated as well as a First Nations' Suicide Prevention committee with representation from 15 Aboriginal communities.

“These committees will hold workshops, intervention training and other activities with the goal of developing suicide prevention initiatives and increasing awareness and healing in our communities.”

A variety of events will take place across the province throughout the month with the aim of educating individuals about useful strategies, including advice on ways to cope with life stresses and to build resiliency.

LINK:

●    Department of Health: www.gnb.ca/health