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.

 

Just Posted

ValhallaFest readies for second annual weekend event

Number of festival-goers expected to double

Family frustrated Terrace dad with advanced cancer must wait weeks for treatment

‘We can see his health declining every day,’ daughter says

Board of Education hires independent consultant to review SD82 reassignments

Review will not change recent decisions but will gather input, says board chair

Nisga’a mortuary pole unveiled in Prince Rupert cemetery on Father’s Day weekend

First-ever pole raised in the Fairview Cemetery was in honour of renowned carver, Robert Tait

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Rich U.S. donors fund anti-oil activism, meeting hears

Much of the organized opposition to oil and gas development in Canada… Continue reading

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Most Read