It’s an important message. Difficult feelings can lighten when you put them into words. So, CMHA is encouraging people to understand and name how they feel, then talk to others about it. These simple, honest conversations are one way to keep mental health struggles in check.

To support this campaign, we’re engaging in an honest conversation about a difficult mental health topic: suicide. We’re encouraging those experiencing thoughts of suicide to talk to others and seek help. We’re reaching out to you and your employees with resources to help those who are struggling.

Why the focus on suicide prevention?

On average, more than 10 Canadians die by suicide each day. For every person lost to suicide, many more experience thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. With every death by suicide, anywhere from seven to 10 survivors are significantly affected by the loss.

The pandemic has brought mental health problems – and the issue of suicide – to the forefront. The CMHA partnered with researchers from the University of British Columbia in May 20201. They found that more than 1 in 20 Canadians (6%) had experienced thoughts or feelings of suicide as a result of the pandemic. That was up from 2.5% who reported suicidal thoughts in the previous year.

We recognize this is a difficult topic for employers to navigate. That’s why we’re supporting you with resources that can help address suicide prevention in your workplace.

Resources for suicide prevention

There are several prevention resources that can help you and your employees recognize the signs of someone in distress.

  • We offer free resources on suicide awareness and prevention in our mental health strategy toolkit. You can access the resources that relate to suicide prevention here.
  • There are also some excellent free resources available through the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Government of Canada.

Partnering with the CMHA and Centre for Suicide Prevention

In addition, Sun Life is partnering with and championing Buddy Up. This is a CMHA program through its Centre for Suicide Prevention. Buddy Up specifically focuses on providing support to men.

This is an important resource, as Canadian men have a suicide rate three times higher than women2. The higher rate can be attributed, in part, to the tendency of men not to talk about their emotions. This can lead to dealing with emotional pain through harmful behaviours and actions, including suicide, instead of seeking help.

Buddy Up has a toolkit that addresses men and suicide. They also offer a free online, skills-based suicide prevention training program – START. The training takes less than two hours and can help people recognize when someone has thoughts of suicide. They can then take action to connect the person to an intervention provider.