World Suicide Prevention Day highlights strategies to prevent loss

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Niagara Branch joins people with lived experience of a mental health issue, their families, policy makers, advocates, researchers and others who come together every year on September 10 to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).

More than 800,000 people worldwide – including about 4,000 Canadians – die by suicide every year.

World Suicide Prevention Day is presented annually by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and is aimed at spreading awareness and breaking the silence about this issue. This year’s theme, ‘Connect, Communicate, Care’ captures the heart of suicide prevention.

Suicide Warning SignsCMHA branches across the province, including our own, work daily to share strategies to prevent the tragedy of suicide. We take a position of “universal precaution” for suicide risk. All direct and non-direct service staff, volunteers (including the Board of Directors) and students are required to be trained and orientated in suicide prevention awareness and/or intervention. This requirement ensures that clients at risk of suicide are identified and connected to resources for thorough assessment and intervention.There are several services offered right here in Niagara:

  • ACCESS Line provides telephone support for adult residents of Niagara facing addiction and mental health concerns. Callers get immediate access to supportive, trained responders who provide information, support, connection to local services, and follow ups.
  • Urgent Support Services: Mental health counsellors are available to assist individuals (16+ years of age) in meeting immediate needs for problem solving, goal setting, and linking to appropriate community supports.
  • Pathstone Crisis Services is a mobile crisis intervention service providing immediate telephone counselling and, if necessary, on-site crisis intervention in the home, school, or other community location. It operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for children and youth up to the age of 18 and their families.
  • COAST (Crisis Outreach and Support Team) provides services to individuals in the Niagara Region who are in crisis and have a mental health concern. Mental Health Professionals work as a team in partnership with police officers who are specially trained in mental health, where ongoing telephone support and/or referrals to appropriate follow up services may be recommended. This program is a partnership between Distress Centre Niagara, CMHA Niagara, Niagara Health System, and Niagara Regional Police Services.
  • Distress Centre of Niagara is a 24-hour, free and confidential telephone crisis intervention support service available to anyone in need in Niagara.
  • Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team offers a “First Response” of Mental Health Workers riding with police responding to 9-1-1 calls related to mental health

Early recognition of the signs of suicidal thinking and offering appropriate intervention can help prevent many deaths by suicide. Though not all suicides can be prevented, some strategies can help reduce the risk, such as:

  • Seeking treatment, care and support for mental health concerns — and building a good relationship with a doctor or other health professionals
  • Staying connected with a care team or community-based program to help manage stress and monitor for thoughts of suicide
  • Building social support networks, such as family, friends, a peer support or support group, or connections with a cultural or faith community
  • Learning good coping skills to deal with problems, and trusting in coping abilities

Universal prevention strategies recommended by the World Health Organization also include increasing access to health care and responsible media reporting.

For more information or to learn more about suicide prevention or positive mental health, contact CMHA Niagara at or 905-641-5222.