Call to action

Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy
Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada

Mental health and suicide prevention are public-health priorities for the federal government. Each year more than 4,000 Canadians die by suicide. Each such tragedy leaves in its wake pain and devastation that echo through families and communities. Where once this loss was shrouded in stigma and secrecy, we are in the midst of an awakening in Canada. Leaders throughout the country are working together to reduce stigma and raise public awareness, connect Canadians, provide information and resources, and accelerate the use of research and innovation in suicide prevention.

All levels of government – federal, provincial, territorial, Indigenous, and municipal – are working alongside partners in the health sector, researchers, non-governmental organizations, and private-sector leaders. Our collective efforts are broadly coordinated under Canada’s Mental Health Strategy, and the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, and align with the recommendations of the 2016 Expert Panel on Suicide Prevention in the Canadian Armed Forces.

In addition to the call to action for all federal organizations under the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, the Prime Minister’s mandate letters to both the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Veterans Affairs directed the ministers to develop a joint suicide prevention strategy for Canada’s military and Veteran communities. This was reinforced in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, which directs the development and implementation of a collaborative CAF and VAC suicide prevention strategy.

This document represents the fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s direction, and the further expression of our commitment to supporting members, Veterans, and their families, and working to reduce risk factors, build protective factors, and prevent suicide to the greatest extent possible.

“Years before I retired from the Navy in 2010 (after doing three years full-time service in the reserves and 35 years in the Regular Force), I considered myself totally institutionalized, loved my Job, and thus was totally petrified to leave. The first five years of retirement were the toughest and I truly never thought I would have been here to write this, especially when my two younger brothers both died by their own hands (one was an ex- serviceman). As we all know, despair can be very dangerous especially when one is alone and has no one to talk to. I walked that thin line daily.

“Through genuine tenacity and loyal determination, my treating physician and all the teams with VAC across our huge continent, I am happy to say their hard work paid off by helping me learn to cope with my PTSD and do my best to enjoy what life I have left. ”

Printed with permission from a A CAF Veteran
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