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Suicide rate falls in B.C. despite COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Oct 23, 2020 at 11:45 am PST

FILE - Demand for Crisis Centre of B.C. services is up 25 per cent in 2020. (iStock)
Summary

The suicide rate in B.C. has dipped during the COVID-19 pandemic

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, the suicide rate fell seven per cent from January to August

Demand for Crisis Centre of B.C. services is up 25 per cent this year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The suicide rate in B.C. has dipped during the COVID-19 pandemic, although more people are reaching out for help.

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, the suicide rate fell seven per cent from January to August compared to the same time last year.

However, experts warn that doesn’t mean people aren’t struggling with mental health issues.

Jonny Morris, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association in B.C., advises to treat the rate decrease with caution.

“Any reduction in the number of lives lost here in the province to suicide is, of course, a very very important development,” he said.

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“However, we should treat it with some caution, just given that it does take time for this kind of data to settle,” he added.

“Sometimes the impact that we’re seeing — whether that be unemployment, whether that be mental health-related concerns due to isolation, social isolation — can take some time to take hold.”

He said suicide rates over a year can fluctuate.

“It’s that overall trend over time that’s really important to pay attention to,” said Morris.

‘More people reaching out’

Stacy Ashton, executive director with the Crisis Centre of B.C., said the rate decrease could be related to more people reaching out for help, adding demand for the centre’s services is up about 25 per cent this year.

“We are seeing suicide-related calls increase. So what that means is that people are reaching out for help when they are having suicidal thoughts, and that’s really what we want,” she said.

“So the pain in there, but people are able to reach out for help and get the help that they need.”

Ashton hopes there’s no stigma with reaching out for help during the pandemic because everyone is affected.

“There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help.”

If you need help or just someone to talk to, you can call B.C.’s line at 1-800-SUICIDE any time. The national line is 1-833-456-4566.