Thursday, July 8, 2010

Address the real barriers

A letter to the editor published in today's edition of The Globe and Mail:
Untreated mental illness is a major risk for suicide: The rate of suicide for people with schizophrenia is 50 times higher than the general population, and 15 to 30 times higher for people with bipolar disorder (Suicide Barriers Fail To Address Root Of Problem – July 7). Suicide is the leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds.

In Canada, only three in 10 adults access mental health care; the situation is worse for children and youth. While stigma may be a factor, the biggest problem is the lack of accessible mental health services and a lack of focus on early intervention. It is ironic that the share of health spending on mental health continues to decline, even though we know recessions lead to increased demands for mental-health services.

Provincial governments have an opportunity to use the increase in federal health transfers between now and 2014 to reverse this trend and focus on early intervention.

Steve Lurie [pictured], executive director, CMHA Toronto Branch

Also see:

Effect of a barrier at Bloor Street Viaduct on suicide rates in Toronto: natural experiment

Suicide barrier on Bloor Viaduct worked, but jumpers went elsewhere: study

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