Victoria – Providing young people with the everyday tools and skills to support mental well-being and ensuring that health professionals have clear and accessible mental health practice and treatment guidelines are among the key recommendations of a death review panel into child and youth suicides.

The panel identified three key areas to reduce child and youth suicide deaths 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; and
  • Expand youth mental health services, including psychiatric services, to non-urban areas through outreach models.

The review of 111 child and youth suicide deaths between Jan. 1, 2013, and June 30, 2018, found that:

  • Although suicide risk factors are understood, predicting suicides is very difficult;
  • Psychiatric medication prescribing guidelines for children and youth were not readily accessible for all health professionals;
  • Barriers existed for families to successfully engage with or access services; and
  • There is a need for timely access to mental health supports and services, particularly in non-urban areas.

The death review panel, chaired by Michael Egilson, included 19 panel 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 panel’s recommendations are aimed at preventing death in similar circumstances and improving public safety overall.

Youth Suicide Death Review Panel Report: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/birth-adoption-death-marriage-and-divorce/deaths/coroners-service/child-death-review-unit/reports-publications/youth_suicide_drp_report_2018.pdf

To read the report Child Death Review Panel: A Review of Child and Youth Suicides (2008-2012) report, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/birth-adoption-death-marriage-and-divorce/deaths/coroners-service/child-death-review-unit/reports-publications/child-youth-suicides.pdf

Death review panels: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/life-events/death/coroners-service/death-review-panel

BC Crisis Centre: https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: https://suicideprevention.ca/

Mindset – Reporting on Mental Health – Resources for journalists in covering suicides: https://sites.google.com/a/journalismforum.ca/mindset-mediaguide-ca/suicide

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