Sunday, August 31, 2008

Doctor confronts mental health stigma

From the August 30th edition of The Edmonton Journal:
Gov't pledges $50M to improve service to young people at risk

By Alexandra Zabjek

EDMONTON - Raj Sherman stood on the side of a highway, staring at the approaching headlights, then deliberately stepped in front of an oncoming car.

He was 16 years old, the child of an immigrant family in small-town British Columbia, where many children's parents either worked two jobs or didn't work at all.

Luckily, that night the car swerved and just grazed his side. He later told his family the bruises were from sports injuries and told his teachers he had hurt himself at work.

Now parliamentary assistant to [Alberta] Health Minister Ron Liepert, Sherman recounted the story Friday morning at a funding announcement where his government pledged to pump $50 million into children's mental health services over the next three years.

"The reason you have to tell these stories is to break down the stigma about mental health," Sherman said of his experiences.

The funding plan sets benchmarks for how long it should take for children to receive mental-health services in the province -- those in crisis should receive care within 24 hours, those with less urgent cases within two weeks, and those with scheduled visits within 30 days.
To read the entire article, click here.

Photograph of Dr. Raj Sherman by Candace Elliott, The Edmonton Journal.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three cheers for outspoken health bureaucrat

From the August 28th edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By Marilla Stephenson (pictured)

CHERYL DOIRON is one of those bureaucrats who, happily for us, is more concerned about doing the right thing than she is with fawning over her political masters.

That’s why the deputy health minister is on the top of my Three Cheers list for her honest assessment of the dismal state of mental health services in Nova Scotia.

Even better, Doiron’s explosive missive was delivered in public, damn the torpedoes and other potential consequences.

She is exactly the kind of bureaucrat Nova Scotia could use more of.

At the Canadian Mental Health Association’s national conference in Dartmouth last weekend, Doiron issued a plea for mental health organizations and the public to push harder to have politicians direct more money into mental health services.

"It’s very hard to get it to be the primary issue, particularly for politicians who are making budget decisions . . . because they are not getting the same pressure about mental health as they get about cancer and coronary disease and diabetes," Doiron told delegates in a speech.

"We, working from the opportunity we have within government, organizations such as (the national association) and the Nova Scotia (association) and other groups, and all of us, collectively need to be doing something much more significant to make this a burning-bridge issue for decision-makers."

Doiron’s primary concern is the long wait times for psychiatric care for people suffering from mental illness, especially children. She noted that while spending for mental illness by her department has increased in recent years, the percentage has decreased in proportion to the total health-care budget.
To read the entire article, click here (as of February 8th, 2010, the entire article is no longer available).

Photograph of Marilla Stephenson courtesy of The Chronicle Herald.

Mental health patients more likely to be Tasered, says foundation

Posted by on August 28th:
People experiencing mental illness will suffer more from the introduction of Taser stun guns into frontline policing, says the Mental Health Foundation.

It says the Taser was fired in 50 percent of cases involving mental health emergencies, but only 11 percent of criminal cases in its year-long trial, according to an analysis by the New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses.
To read the entire article, click here.

Also see:
Media Release 29-8-08: The Use of Tasers

Tasers: People with experience of mental illness will suffer

Thanks go to Chris Summerville for bringing this article to my attention.

Photograph courtesy of

Friday, August 29, 2008

Schizophrenia / Hearing [our] Voices -- Dartmouth Visit

September 22nd to 30th

Alderney Gate Public Library

Hearing [our] Voices is a research-based poster exhibit exploring dilemmas of care and control in the lives of people with schizophrenia. It illustrates the challenges that people with mental illnesses have in finding and maintaining stable housing, and it is intended to raise awareness about the connections between schizophrenia and homelessness.

The exhibit is based on a participatory research project by Professor Barbara Schneider at the University of Calgary. It involved, as co-researchers, nine members of the Unsung Heroes Peer Support Program at the Calgary Chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, all of whom have schizophrenia and have experienced housing instability. Under the guidance of Professor Schneider, the members of this group conducted interviews and focus groups with other people who live with schizophrenia and have also experienced homelessness or housing instability. They are now participating in a range of dissemination activities, including a documentary film, a graphic book, and this traveling poster exhibit. Detailed information about the Hearing [our] Voices project is available by clicking here.

The exhibit will be open to the public from Monday, September 22nd, to Tuesday, September 30th, at the Alderney Gate Public Library, 60 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth.

For further information, contact Stephen Ayer, Executive Director, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia, by phoning (902) 465-2601 or 1-800-465-2601 (toll-free in Nova Scotia) or by sending an email to

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Continual struggle

A letter to the editor published in today's The Chronicle Herald:
Re: "A passionate call for mental health services" (Aug. 23).

It is disheartening to see the continual struggle for the mind and brain to be given equal treatment to the heart, cancer and pancreas. This state risks institutionalizing the stigma described in Michael Kirby’s Senate report "Out of the Shadows at Last."

A wait of six to 12 months for a child or youth feels like a lifetime. Lest children’s mental health service is kept as the "orphan’s orphan," we would like to note a few points.

Most mental disorders in adults begin in children and youth. Parity of resources, clinicians and research funding for child and youth mental health is even more dramatically unbalanced than for adults. Many of the problems in childhood have long-term consequences for adult functioning and multiple service problems and needs. In a knowledge-based economy, without helping all children and youth reach their optimal mental health, we sacrifice the economic health of our society.

We applaud Deputy Health Minister Cheryl Doiron’s alert to society that we must all attend to mental health, and in particular we support the need to bring services for the minds and brains of children and youth up to par with other systems and organs of the body.

Margaret Steele, MD, President,

Wade Junek, MD, President-Elect,

Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A passionate call for mental health services

From today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By John Gillis, Health Reporter

Deputy minister makes rare appeal for public support

Nova Scotia’s deputy health minister called on mental health organizations and the public Friday to help her light a fire under politicians to do more to help people with mental illnesses.

In a passionate off-the-cuff speech at the opening of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s national conference in Dartmouth, Cheryl Doiron said her department has put more money into mental health services over the years, but spending has declined as a proportion of the overall health budget.

"It’s very hard to get it to be the primary issue, particularly for politicians who are making budget decisions . . . because they are not getting the same pressure about mental health as they get about cancer and coronary disease and diabetes," she said.

"We, working from the opportunity we have within government, organizations such as (the national association) and the Nova Scotia (association) and other groups, and all of us collectively need to be doing something much more significant to make this a burning bridge issue for decision makers."

Mental health spending accounts for just over 3.5 per cent of the $3.2-billion provincial health budget.

Ms. Doiron said the relatively small amount of funding for those services means the province is failing to provide "absolutely essential help" to children and others.

She gave the example of an adolescent mental health program at the IWK Health Centre. The in-patient treatment lasts 12 to 18 months. But the 13- to 19-year-olds who might benefit from the intensive program have to wait that long just to be admitted.

Ms. Doiron said she pleaded the case to cabinet and was able to secure extra funding of $1.5 million this year and about $2 million in subsequent years to expand to 18 beds from 12.

An enduring bias against people with mental illness means people are often reluctant to speak about their conditions, and society doesn’t know they should be treated just like people with physical ailments, Toronto psychiatrist David Goldbloom told the conference in his keynote address.

"I think one of the challenges around mental illness is that its unique properties include affecting our thinking, our moods and our behaviour: the very dimensions that define us as individuals," he said. "That makes it a lot tougher to separate the illness from the person."

And while growing numbers of people report in surveys that they have had direct experience with mental illness, either personally or through a friend or relative, the perception that people with mental illnesses are dangerous or violent has increased, Dr. Goldbloom said.

That attitude is exemplified by reporting on events such as the recent beheading of a passenger on a Greyhound bus and crime dramas like CSI and Law and Order, he said.

"The reality of mental illness, its mundane reality, is virtually never depicted," he said. "The same applies to the newspapers, because somebody recovering from mental illness or somebody simply making a great adaptation to mental illness is about as newsworthy as a plane landing safely at the airport."

Dr. Goldbloom said research shows that negative perceptions are formed very early, so young children should be a focus of efforts to erase stigmatization.

Workplaces should be another major target, he said.

Finding and keeping meaningful work goes a long way toward helping a person with mental illness develop a sense of self and social connections; mental illness is the leading cause of short-term disability keeping people out of the workforce, Dr. Goldbloom said.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada, of which he is vice-chairman, says mental illness drains $51 billion from the Canadian economy each year.

But there is hope that negative attitudes can be broken down, Dr. Goldbloom said.

He recalled that when he was an intern in the early 1980s, hospital staff were "terrified" of the gay men who appeared with symptoms of what was later identified as HIV/AIDS, only touching them with triple-gloved hands.

"Think of how far it has come in the ensuing 25 years," Dr. Goldbloom said. "It’s really an extraordinary social transformation. Mental illness has not come anywhere near as far as HIV."
Photograph of Cheryl Doiron courtesy of The Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mentally ill being 'set up for failure' with short hospital stays

From the August 22nd edition of The Province:
By Becky Rynor, Canwest News Service

OTTAWA - Hospitals may be discharging patients with chronic mental conditions like schizophrenia too quickly, suggest new statistics released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

"We're kind of setting people up for failure," said Schizophrenia Society of Canada president Pamela Forsythe. "If we send people out before there's been a chance to arrange appropriate follow-up services or address issues around inadequate housing or access to appropriate supports and treatments . . . the gains that may be starting to appear from the time in hospital are very quickly lost."
To read the entire article, click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Apartment complex to be built for people with addictions, mental illness

From - August 20th
A new affordable housing complex for people living with addictions and mental health issues is set for construction in Halifax.

The federal government announced $1.9-million on Wednesday for a 20-unit building on Maynard Street.

An additional $150,000 has been provided to partner with the Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre in Halifax to provide support to homeless people or those at risk of becoming homeless.

The announcement is part of the federal government's two-year Homelessness Partnering Strategy. The program, which was announced April 2007, is to provide $269.6 million to help communities combat homelessness.

Randy Cross, a recovering alcoholic, said affordable housing worked for him. Before moving into a subsidized apartment in Dartmouth seven years ago, he lived in a rooming house.

Cross found it impossible to ignore the drug dealers who sold outside of his building.

"Pure hell, pure hell," Cross told CBC News. "And the drugs being out there drove me to find another place."

Paul O'Hara, a social worker with the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association, said the apartment building will be staffed with support workers to help tenants get back on their feet.

"Self-esteem is the issue for anybody who's got addiction and poverty issues," O'Hara said.

"They don't feel very good about who they are and they get reminded by anyone who looks at them on the street," he said.

Construction of the housing complex will begin this fall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Letter to the Editor ...

... published in today's edition of The Chronicle Herald.
Poor choice of words

I commend the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) for considering mental illness to be a priority for inclusion in the eighth annual National Report Card on Health Care.

This study found that "a majority of Canadians (60 per cent) agree that the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness are underfunded, while a greater majority agrees that funding for mental health issues ought to be on par with funding for physical health issues, like cancer and diabetes (72 per cent)."

Against this backdrop of interesting data, the CMA posted an article on its website which focuses on stigma, including a bullet which states "almost half of Canadians (46 per cent) think the term ‘mental illness’ is used as an excuse for bad behaviour." I find the CMA’s wording of this bullet disturbing because the statement used in the survey was: "We call some things mental illness because it gives some people an excuse for their poor behaviour and personal failings."

Looking at the survey responses to this statement – i.e., 22 per cent completely disagree; 13 per cent somewhat disagree; 15 per cent neither agree nor disagree; 25 per cent somewhat agree; and 21 per cent completely agree – I am led to conclude that the statement was poorly worded and resulted in a random distribution of responses.

Stephen W. Ayer, Executive Director, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

From the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service:

Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) has approved funding for poverty law cases for the next six months. We really need to take advantage of this opportunity to show NSLA that there is a real need for funding for poverty law. If you have a client facing legal issues around:
  • Income Assistance Appeals through the Department of Community Services
  • CPP and Disability Appeals
  • Tenant Rights issues or Residential Tenancies applications
  • Consumer or debtor problems
  • Human rights issues
  • Difficulty in accessing services and supports in the areas of income support, health, education
Please encourage them to go to their local Nova Scotia Legal Aid office and ask for help.

I have attached a couple of quick posters outlining the information [click here]. They apply to HRM mostly, since the poster also encourages people to come to Dalhousie Legal Aid. Feel free to tweak them to your community, and include the phone number for your local legal aid office. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the pressing need for legal representation around social and economic rights!

Megan Leslie
Community Legal Worker

Dalhousie Legal Aid Service
2209 Gottingen St.
Halifax NS B3K 3B5
t: 902.423.8105
f: 902.422.8067

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Two articles published ...

... in the August 19th edition of The Washington Post:

40,000 Potential Tragedies

Tragedy Can Be Averted

Survey shows mental illness now better understood

But more public education still needed

From today's edition of The Chronicle Herald:
By John Gillis, Health Reporter, and The Canadian Press

A new national survey shows Canadians’ attitudes toward mental illness are changing for the better, says the executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia.

The report, released Monday by the Canadian Medical Association and based on an Ipsos Reid survey, shows 75 per cent of Canadians disagree with the idea that people with mental illnesses could "just snap out of it" if they really wanted to and an overwhelming majority believe mental illness requires treatment by a health professional, said Stephen Ayer.

"What this report says to me is . . . people are becoming educated," he said. "This is good news."

The results also indicate Canadians believe the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses is underfunded and should be on par with funds allotted to diseases like cancer and diabetes.

In 2006-07, Nova Scotia spent less than four per cent of its health budget on mental health.

Mr. Ayer said the report underlines the importance of educating young people about mental illnesses. He said half of people who develop a mental illness begin to have symptoms by age 14.

Medications that help people cope with and recover from mental illness began to appear in the 1960s.

"In the past, it’s always been that if you got a mental illness, you were basically doomed to an asylum," Mr. Ayer said. "But that’s no longer the case. People are starting to recognize that."

A release accompanying the Canadian Medical Association’s eighth annual National Report Card on Health Care focused on some of the more negative attitudes found in the survey, including that 46 per cent of Canadians think some people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour.

Mr. Ayer called that question ambiguous, noting the responses were quite evenly spread across the scale used in the national survey.

Only half of those surveyed would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member suffering from a mental illness. That compares to 72 per cent who would openly discuss a diagnosis of cancer in the family.

"This year’s report card shines a harsh, and frankly unflattering, light on the attitudes we Canadians have concerning mental health," said Dr. Brian Day, president of the Canadian Medical Association.

"In some ways, mental illness is the final frontier of socially acceptable discrimination.

"Can you imagine the public uproar if mental health was replaced with race, gender or religion?"

The survey also found troubling attitudes toward people with drug and alcohol addictions, with less than half of respondents believing addiction is a mental illness.

Only one in five would socialize with someone who has a drug or alcohol addiction and less than five per cent would hire someone who has a drug or alcohol addiction.

"These figures show clearly the insidious stigma still associated with mental health and mental illness," Dr. Day said in a statement released with the report card.

"These are the attitudes that have kept mental health on the outside for far too long."

The mental health results, from an Ipsos Reid online survey of 2,024 Canadian adults, are considered accurate within 2.2 percentage points.

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s national conference begins Friday in Dartmouth.

Dr. David Goldbloom, a Toronto psychiatrist and vice-chairman of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, will give the keynote address called Stigma and Mental Illness: Past, Present and Future.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stigma attached to mental illness a "national embarrassment": CMA

From - 18 August 2008:
By Patrick Sullivan

The stigma attached to mental illness is so pervasive it can affect almost all aspects of Canadians' lives, from the people they marry to the workers they hire, a new poll conducted for the CMA indicates.

"The results don't paint a very flattering picture," CMA President Brian Day said of poll, which was part of the CMA's 2008 National Report Card on the state of Canada's health care system. "When only 50% of us would tell a friend that a family member has a mental illness while 72% would disclose a cancer diagnosis, there's something seriously wrong.

"We are looking at the final frontier of socially acceptable discrimination," he added. "It's a national embarrassment."

The mental health results, from an Ipsos Reid online survey of 2,024 Canadian adults, have a margin of error of ± 2.2%. The survey was conducted prior to the CMA's Aug. 18-20 annual meeting in Montreal, where mental health issues took centre stage. Other findings included:
  • almost half of Canadians (46%) think the term "mental illness" is used as an excuse for bad behaviour;

  • a solid majority of Canadians would not have a family doctor (61%) or hire a lawyer (58%) who has a mental illness;

  • 55% would not marry someone who has a mental illness;

  • 27% of respondents are fearful of being around people experiencing serious mental illness;

  • 15% of respondents had themselves received a previous diagnosis of clinical depression, the most common mental illness.
Despite their generally negative attitudes, almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) agreed that funding to treat mental illness should be on a par with funding for physical illnesses such as cancer. The Ipsos Reid overview of the results ( concluded: "In the view of most Canadians, mental health is not given the priority it ought to have within the health care system."
To read the entire story, click here.

To read the full Ipsos Reid survey, entitled 8th Annual National Report Care on Health Care (August 2008), click here.

Misunderstanding Defines Most Americans' View of Schizophrenia

From the August 15th edition of Psychiatric News:
By Eve Bender

Services and support are seriously lacking for people with schizophrenia and their caregivers, according to the results of a recent NAMI poll.

Schizophrenia is an oft-misunderstood disorder that remains shrouded in mystery, according to the results of a poll released by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in June.

The survey, titled "Schizophrenia: Public Attitudes, Personal Needs: Views From People Living With Schizophrenia, Caregivers, and the General Public," examined attitudes about the disorder from the perspectives of those who have firsthand knowledge of the illness as well as the general public.

To read the entire article, click here.

Also see:

Schizophrenia: Public Attitudes, Personal Needs

Schizophrenia: Twice as Common as HIV/AIDS, But Survey Shows Americans Misinformed

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sarah’s worthy cause

From the August 9th edition of The Chronicle Herald:
When Sarah, Duchess of York, speaks at the Halifax Metro Centre on Sept. 16, a portion of the proceeds of the event will help support the one in five Nova Scotians who are living with a mental health issue.

The Duchess is pleased that part of the proceeds from the event will be directed to a cause in which she believes.

A limited number of premium seats are available by calling the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia at 464-6000. Information on VIP packages for An Evening with the Duchess of York is available at

The Duchess is tremendously supportive of causes related to health and homelessness and we are delighted that Nova Scotians with mental illness will be benefiting from her visit.

The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is pleased to be a part of Mount Saint Vincent University’s World Podium influential leaders speaker series.

Myrtle Corkum, executive director,

Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Suicide's genetic key discovered

From the July 31st edition of The Globe and Mail:
By Carly Weeks

Canadian researchers may have discovered the underlying cause that leads some people to commit suicide or suffer major depression, a finding that could revolutionize how mental disorders are treated.

After examining the brains of people who committed suicide, a team of scientists discovered an abundance of protein affecting a particular gene that controls anxiety and stress compared with the brains of people who had died of heart attacks or other natural causes.

The study is part of the burgeoning field of epigenetics that examines how genes are regulated, or turned on and off.

"It's a really new avenue of research," said Michael Poulter, lead researcher and professor in the physiology and pharmacology department at the University of Western Ontario.

"There's only a few people around the world that are doing it."

In this study, researchers found that people who committed suicide had elevated levels of a specific protein.

They believe the abundance of the protein alters or modifies a gene that normally helps people cope with stress. As a result of the change, the gene shuts down and malfunctions, inhibiting the individual's ability to handle stress and cope with anxiety.

The researchers, whose findings were published in this month's Biological Psychiatry journal, aren't sure why some people have higher levels of the protein. But Dr. Poulter believes it is somehow linked to stressful life events and how people may cope with them in different ways.
To read the entire article, click here.

Thanks go to John Devlin for bringing this article to my attention.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Gene-Hunters Find Hope and Hurdles in Schizophrenia Studies

From the July 31st edition of The New York Times:
By Nicholas Wade

Two groups of researchers hunting for schizophrenia genes on a larger scale than ever before have found new genetic variants that point toward a different understanding of the disease.

The variants discovered by the two groups, one led by Dr. Kari Stefansson of Decode Genetics in Iceland and the other by Dr. Pamela Sklar of Massachusetts General Hospital, are rare. They substantially increase the risk of schizophrenia but account for a tiny fraction of the total number of cases.

This finding, coupled with the general lack of success so far in finding common variants for schizophrenia, raises the possibility that the genetic component of the disease is due to a large number of variants, each of which is very rare, rather than to a handful of common variants.

“What is beginning to emerge is that a lot of the risk of brain diseases is conferred by rare deletions,” Dr. Stefansson said. The three variants discovered by his group and Dr. Sklar’s involve the deletion of large sections of DNA from specific sites in a patient’s genome.
To read the entire article, click here.

Also see:

Gene flaws link to schizophrenia

Genetic hot spots tied to schizophrenia

To Whom It May Concern

Four years ago, a friend passed away from schizophrenia. Several years previous, I had lost contact with him; then he 'suddenly' reappeared in my community. After this unexpected meeting, I wrote the following poem as a tribute to the man; he not only lost, but his family and other friends [did] as well. We mourned him not only after his diagnoses, but his untimely death as well.

I guess after all this time, I wanted to share [the poem] with others. In sharing it, I hope it does not offend anyone. It is meant as a tribute to my friend, he was generous and intelligent beyond belief.

Thank you for your time.

Michelle Anthony


A jumbled knot of long hair
and unkept beard,
You called my name.
For endless moments~
with all energy
pounding in my throat,
I searched your face.

Who are you?
How do you know my name?
Then with electric epiphany
I looked beyond your scruffy being
and into your eyes.
Those blue eyes that once held such piss and vinegar ;
now held no soul.

With question, I spoke your name.
My heart pounded~
not with the excitement of meeting
a dear old friend,
but in likeness of passing a stranger
on a deserted, darkened street.
My mouth begged for drink.

You spoke of times I knew ;
and of times I knew never existed.
“Gotta smoke?” you queried.
As I delivered the cigarette
across the table, I watched my hand tremble.
Were you capable of physical harm?
I lowered my eyes -ashamed at my own thoughts.
The fear of you sensing any fear from me,
scared me and yet shamed me.

A man with good intentions asked
if you were bothering me.
“No” I replied in honesty.
The man did not know
the soul you once held,
the friend you once were.

The old folks asseverate that “you are crazy”.
The young utter “too many drugs”-
some with a glint in their eyes
at the prospect of permanently
being in a state of never, never land.
None of these know you.
None of these know who you were.
Scared of wild blue eyes,
many avoid you.

Do you remember who you were?
Do you know who you are?
Living in endless torment~
incapable of a moment’s peace
I beg to ask of those who judge
Who has stolen the soul
of those blue eyes?

© 2008 J. Michelle Anthony. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mental Health First Aid

First aid strategies that are helpful to young people developing a mental disorder: beliefs of health professionals compared to young people and parents

To read this article by Anthony F. Jorm, Amy J. Morgan, and Annemarie Wright, click here.

Thanks go to Chris Summerville for bringing this article to my attention.

Also see:
Mental Health First Aid: The ‘Earliest’ Form of Early Intervention for Psychosis (PDF)

Graphic courtesy of the Canadian Mental Health Association- Edmonton Region.


Schizophrenia Society of Canada Supports The Violet Bloom Campaign to Raise Awareness About Suicide Prevention

WINNIPEG, JULY 31, 2008 - Chris Summerville, Interim CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC), is pleased to announce the SSC’s involvement in, and support of, The Violet Bloom Campaign created and designed by Toronto film writer/director/producer Silvia Kovatchev. Dedicated toward raising awareness about suicide prevention, the Campaign is designed to support the work of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, along with Kids Help Phone, the National Network for Mental Health, and Active Minds in their efforts to better educate people about suicide prevention, and create the necessary educational materials used by these organizations in their work.

The highlight of the Campaign is the production of a film entitled: 2Violet, a story about the unusual relationship that Nona, an actress with schizophrenia, and her teenage daughter, Violet - an aspiring writer – have with Sal, an independent filmmaker. The story intertwines reality with the realities of mental illness and an artist’s imagination, which are often indistinguishable as they form an endless continuum. All these realities are driven by different forms of love.

The Violet Bloom Campaign will go through a variety of stages:
  • raising awareness about suicide prevention and funds for the production of the upcoming feature film 2Violet
  • production of the film
  • screening the film at different festivals
  • special screenings of the film at university campuses, schools, corporations, organizations, followed by Q&A sessions with cast, crew, representatives from the non-profit groups
  • based on the film, creating educational materials that the non-profit groups can use in their work
  • development of an ongoing discussion board on where people share their reasons to live and read why others think life IS worth living
“We are very pleased to be a part of this wonderful and much-needed campaign, says Mr. Summerville. “Unfortunately, there remains a deafening silence in our society when it comes to talking about suicide. The subject is definitely ‘taboo’ in many circles, so any opportunity we see to support a campaign that helps stop the suffering of those who are caught in this silence, we are delighted to do so.”


According to the World Health Organization, someone around the globe commits suicide every 40 seconds, while every three seconds, someone attempts to take their own life.

Some other important facts:
  • Suicide rate is the highest among young adults (age 16-24)
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in this age group
  • In Canada, adolescent suicide has increased four-fold since the 1960s
  • Approximately 3,500 Canadians take their own life each year, while another 50,000 attempt to do so
  • Suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth than for non-aboriginal
  • While up to 40% of those living with schizophrenia will attempt suicide, 10% will die by suicide
  • Depression is the most common mental health issue for those contemplating suicide.

Schizophrenia Society of Canada

The Schizophrenia Society of Canada began in 1979 and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and psychosis through education, support programs, public policy and research. The Society works with 10 provincial societies in a federation model to: raise awareness and educate the public in order to reduce stigma and discrimination; support families and individuals; advocate for legislative change; and support research through the SSC Foundation and other independent efforts.

For further information, please contact:

Chris Summerville
Interim CEO
Schizophrenia Society of Canada
Tel: 905-415-2007