The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is encouraging Members of Parliament to lead a conversation with their constituents about suicide prevention.
“Saving a life really can begin with something as simple as a conversation,” said Louise Bradley, MHCC president. “If we commit to having this conversation, lives can, and will, be saved.”
The announcement for the initiative, launched May 5 with the Twitter hashtag #308conversations, challenges MPs to hold community meetings over the summer parliamentary break using an MHCC toolkit share information with local leaders and stakeholders to increase public awareness of mental health and suicide issues.
“Working with local leaders including bereaved survivors of suicide and person with lived experience, MPs will play a pivotal role in addressing one of the greatest barriers to preventing suicide: stigma and the reluctance of society to discuss this issue openly,” stated a press release by CNW group.
Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz said he has not made any plans, as yet.
“I’m not sure how we’re going to engage in that,” he said.
He does plan to devote an upcoming edition of his weekly op-ed column to the subject, but doesn’t think there will be meetings in the riding, specifically not during the summer, as he said it is not usually the best time to engage people.
There are those in Yorkton, however, including the board of the Yorkton Mental Health Drop In Centre, who plan on pressing the issue with Breitkreuz.
“The initiative to equip MPs across the country to lead the conversation with constituents is an effective way to get the message out on the stigma attached to mental illness and the board is currently making plans to meet with their MP to help,” said Darlene Stakiw, president of the Drop In Centre.
Gary Shepherd, director Mental Health and Addictions for Sunrise Health Region, said he could not speak to the specific initiative, but believes the concept is a good one.
“I think anything that opens up a conversation on suicide prevention, anything that removes the stigma to it, is a benefit to the community,” he said.