Programs & Services

Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy is to understand, address and mitigate risks of suicide across the military and veteran community

Suicide prevention training for leaders, continued research, and improved transition services are among the 160 actions currently underway or under development to prevent Canada’s soldiers and veterans from taking their own lives.

These calls-to-action are part of the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy, released on Thursday. The strategy is a combined effort between Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

“There is no simple solution or easy answer, but through this joint strategy, we will help our military members, Veterans, and their families reduce the risk of suicide and enhance ways of providing support where and when it is needed. Doing everything we can to prevent suicide is a cornerstone of our commitment to the well-being of military members, Veterans, and their families,” said Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs.

According to the 2016 CAF Surgeon General’s report on suicide, between 1995 and 2014, 225 regular force males and 13 regular force females took their lives.

The goal of this new strategy is to understand, address and mitigate risks of suicide across the military and veteran community and support a “community of resilient and productive CAF members, veterans, and families supported by robust initiatives and programs that promote well-being and prevent self-harm and suicide.”

The strategy was developed with input from mental health experts and focuses on a pan-CAF and VAC approach to suicide prevention. The strategy calls for improved communication and education, enhancing programs to build resilience, individual and group physical fitness, support for families, a comprehensive review and renewal of policies and guidelines, establishing a National Suicide Prevention Coordinator and much more.

The document also highlighted programs that are currently under development including substantial financial investments by VAC, announced earlier this year. VAC is making a four-year investment of $4 million in the new Veteran Emergency Fund and $13.9 million in a new Veteran and Family Wellbeing Fund. Additionally, VAC announced that starting April 2018 it is investing $17.5 million over four years, and then $9.2 million every year, to establish a Centre of Excellence on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other related mental health conditions.

The Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy was revealed in a press conference with representation from both departments including Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence Seamus O’Regan, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Sherry Romanado, and General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.

“The women and men who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces are our military’s number one capability, and taking care of them and their families is our top priority. By viewing the risks of suicide from a holistic perspective, the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy considers the mental, physical, social and spiritual aspects of health and wellness. By making it easier for military members and Veterans to get the help they may need, and doing all we can to ensure nobody falls through the cracks, we can make a difference in the lives of Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister.

Click here to view the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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