Living Hope

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Living Hope is the Edmonton community’s collective response to suicide – a reflection of our combined determination to translate intention into action.

The number of people dying each year in Edmonton by suicide creates a sense of urgency. When more than double the number of people are dying by suicide than in motor vehicle collisions, the call for action is clear. When preventable fatal injuries occur in Edmonton, whether intentional or unintentional, a community response is required. In 2016 the Edmonton Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee released the Edmonton Suicide Prevention Strategy, 2016-2021. Capitalizing on the momentum underway, the group expanded into the Edmonton Suicide Prevention Strategy Implementation Planning Committee, made up of senior representatives from Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Government of Alberta, the City of Edmonton, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, the Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton Region (CMHA-ER), Edmonton Police Service (EPS), Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, the University of Alberta (UofA) and community organizations.

The Committee worked to develop actions and activities within the three areas that research demonstrates have the potential to move the needle on suicide prevention: • awareness and education • accessibility to the full continuum of services • addressing the needs of higher risk populations Responsibility for implementation will be divided among key stakeholders, each with a unique and important role to play. Guiding the work is the foundational principle that effective suicide prevention has to be a multifaceted public health approach, acknowledging that suicide is often linked to mental illness and/or substance misuse (17). These, in turn, are influenced by the many systemic factors that comprise the social determinants of health (19). The numbers demonstrate that those most at risk of suicide are middle aged men (1,2). But data doesn’t tell the whole story. Reports from the community describe that some people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and twospirited (LGBTQ2S), and Indigenous communities feel vulnerable because of the oppression and discrimination they regularly experience, along with the stressors that may be present from marginalization and poverty. Access to mental health services, critical to suicide prevention, is one of the ‘Game Changers’ for EndPovertyEdmonton, recognizing sound mental health as a vital part of the journey out of poverty (8).

This implementation plan contains specific activities which the Committee learned will make a difference, and so is designed primarily for those involved in service delivery. In the plan, you will find a number of quick wins and catalysts. The quick wins are activities that can be implemented immediately and the catalysts have been identified by the Committee as essential for change. The Committee believes that by bringing together activities that are underway across the region, understanding where the gaps are and addressing them, and most importantly, by working collaboratively across systems, suicides in Edmonton can be prevented. Living Hope upholds the inherent value of every life and recognizes that Edmontonians, both as service providers and as community members, can offer the compassion, and the respect needed to increase resilience and nurture hope for those contemplating suicide.

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