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

Alternative approval process to proceed for Centennial Field purchase

Fate of loan to purchase land for future park in hands of South Shuswap residents

Valdy gives volunteers a hand after Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival

Celebrated Canadian singer pitched in alongside starstruck clean-up crew

Robbery tactic used on Salmon Arm senior not uncommon

RCMP advice comes after credit cards stolen at Walmart parking lot

Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival exceeds expectations

Artists, attendees and organizers praise effort behind successful event

Founder of Salmon Arm’s sister city exchange helps welcome Inashiki visitors

Twenty three Japanese guests visit city for a week, Salmon Arm to return in March

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Penticton man sentenced in non-fatal 2017 shooting

Elkena Michael Knauff sentenced to seven and a half months in jail

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Kamloops RCMP locate and arrest man who fled from police

The 22-year-old male was wanted in relation to a domestic violence investigation

North Shuswap Lions, Celista winery host benefit concert

Sept. 7 event at Celista Estate Winery to support North Shuswap Youth Program

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

COLUMN: Much to enjoy at Ryga Arts Festival

As I learn about George Ryga and his contributions, it is clear why this festival carries his name

Shuswap history in pictures

Shuswap history in pictures: mechanics class

Most Read