Increased Rates of Suicide Demand Action

                               Bill Wilkerson
                         Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO
      Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health
        Roundtable General Chairman, US/Canada Forum on Mental Health and

    TORONTO, Feb. 21 /CNW/ - Findings released yesterday by the prestigious
US Center for Disease Control and Prevention illustrate the powerful need for
action in both Canada and the United States to begin a strategic assault on
the rising rates of suicide in the working population and among the youngest
of our children.
    The Center finds that suicide rates, since 1999, have increased 20 and 13
per cent among men and women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, higher among the
younger segment of that population.
    Meanwhile, suicides among children ages 5 to 14 had increased 16 per cent
in the same period.
    I have argued in the past that we need numerical targets to crystallize
investments in research and improved care of depression in order to begin to
understand the suicidal thought process more clearly and to put the
seriousness of prevention into practical action.
    It is a great national calamity that suicide has become the leading cause
of violent deaths in our society and I feel we should now galvanize health
professions, research institutions, governments, corporations, unions and
families around a concentrated effort to begin in this generation a needed
effort to reduce suicide rates on a percentage basis, year over year in the
next two decades.
    Depression is believed to be present in most suicides. Any effort to
reduce suicide deaths and attempts must include improved care and treatment
for depression.
    I say that because in Canada today only 24 percent of Canadians who
receive treatment for depression actually get guideline level care.
    Science is beginning to tell us that bipolar disorders is much more
prevalent than we previously thought and combined with major depression, may
constitute the underlying features of the surge that the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention points to.
    Therefore, this year, the Roundtable and the US/Canada Forum on Mental
Health and Productivity will bring principals together to discuss how a slate
of social targets aimed at the percentage reduction of suicides in our
populations can be organized, articulated and acted upon.
    At current rates, 4000 Canadians and 32,000 Americans take their own life
each year.
    And the huge economic cost, human suffering and heartbreak associated
with the statistics militate against a timid or reluctant view of the need for
target-driven action.
    This is a layman's view, of course, but no great mission has ever been
accomplished without a large vision and a set of goals which are clear to all.
    This mission is no different.

For further information:

For further information: Refer: Bill Wilkerson - (416) 552-5937 or; Note: Wilkerson is also Chair of the Workforce Advisory
Committee of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

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