Loading articles...

University of Calgary launches suicide prevention program

Last Updated Nov 16, 2020 at 7:59 am MST

(PHOTO: Chelsey Harms/660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The University of Calgary is out with a new suicide prevention program, amid social isolation, as many students learn from home.

Researchers at the university said a mental health crisis is unfolding globally and forced isolation, job losses, and mounting stress don’t help.

“The University of Calgary’s mission is to prevent suicide,” said Senior Director of student wellness, Debbie Bruckner. “The only acceptable goal for us is zero suicide.”

Based on data collected from students in 2019, 16 per cent reported that they seriously considered suicide while just under three per cent said they attempted.

Around 88 per cent of students said they felt overwhelmed while over 70 per cent reported feeling lonely and depressed in the last 12 months.

Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), Tom Sampson and Police Chief Mark Neufeld recently took to Twitter saying suicide figures are up, prompting the need for more supports.

“Suicide is a serious public health concern and a leading cause of death in young adults 18 to 25 years old,” said psychiatry professor Dr. Chris Wilkes. “Worldwide, someone dies from suicide every 40 seconds, up to 800,000 deaths annually.”

The new framework plans to take action by reducing the stigma around suicide and promoting a community of care while providing the support students need.

The program also looks to offer more education on mental health issues and communicate policies, processes, and procedures more effectively.

“The time for action to prevent suicides must be now,” said director of the Campus Mental Health Strategy, Dr. Andrew Szeto. “Our students are facing pressures and stresses unlike ever before. Suicides can be prevented, but only when students are able to find adequate help. We’re committed to providing the help they need when they need it most.”