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“Focus on outreach and treatment will help prevent suicides”: province

The provincial government has published the results of a death review panel.

The panel looked into child and youth suicides. The key recommendations pointed to providing young people with the tools and skills to support mental well-being, as well as ensuring that health professionals have clear and accessible mental health practice and treatment guidelines. 

The panel put forward three recommendations to reduce child and youth suicides and improve public safety: 

  • Adopt mental well-being strategies as part of social emotional learning for students 
  • Identify and distribute provincial best practice youth mental health guidelines
  • Expand youth mental health services including psychiatric services to non-urban areas through outreach models

The death review panel included 19 experts with expertise in youth services, child welfare, mental health, addictions, medicine, nursing, public health, Indigenous health, injury prevention, education, income support, law enforcement and health research. 

The report found that suicide is the leading cause of injury-related death among children and youth in BC, more than motor vehicle accidents or overdose incidents. 

The review also found the following:

  • Although suicide risk factors are understood, predicting suicides is difficult
  • Psychiatric medication prescribing guidelines for children and youth were not readily accessible for all health professionals
  • There are barriers for families to access services
  • Timely access to mental health supports and services is needed, especially in non-urban areas

This review builds on an earlier work, which included recommendations for improved service coordination, access to mental health services, and changes to BC Coroners policy and practice. 

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