Coroner probes B.C. youth suicides

Despite the media and political focus on bullying, mental illness is a much bigger source of youth suicides in B.C.

Pink shirt anti-bullying day has been a tradition for B.C. politicians for years. The latest study of teen suicides confirms that mental illness is a much larger problem than bullying.

VICTORIA – Despite the media and political focus on bullying, an analysis of recent youth suicides in B.C. has found that bullying was a factor in only one in four cases.

The B.C. Coroners Service released the report of a death review panel Thursday, looking at 91 youth suicides between 2008 and 2012. It recommends better coordination between schools, hospitals and mental health services to identify teens at risk of suicide, and follow-up after suicides to determine drug use, sexual orientation and other possible risk factors.

More than 60 per cent of young people studied had previous or current contact with the mental health system, the largest common factor. But 27 per cent of the cases were teens who took their lives without any previous warning signs identified by family, school or people in the community.

Almost half of the teens in the study were 17 and 18, and two out of three successful suicides were boys. Of the 91 cases, 18 were aboriginal, a rate about twice as high as the general population.

Michael Egilson, who chaired the B.C. Coroners Service Child Death Review Panel, said the next step is to meet with young people to get their input into how best to reach vulnerable teens before they harm themselves.

NDP children and family development critic Carole James said more awareness and study of the problem is helpful, but the recommendations have been made in other studies by coroners and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s independent children’s advocate.

James said parents often describe a “revolving door” where teens with mental illness go to emergency, get medication and are told to return to the hospital or call police if they have another crisis.

Meanwhile they go on a waiting list for counselling or residential treatment, which can take several months.

James said when she questioned Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux in budget debates this summer, she was told there are no more resources in the current budget to expand youth mental health services.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Canfor announces permanent closure of Isle Pierre Mill

The company also announced curtailments at their pulp mills in Prince George.

COVID-19 and returning to safe operation

WorkSafeBC recognizes the importance of worker safety as businesses look to resume… Continue reading

Local governments receiving provincial grants

Meant for infrastructure projects and planning

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read