Support for the joint suicide prevention strategy

Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy
Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada


Canadian Psychological Association

Promptly and effectively addressing the needs of those who are thinking about suicide requires making mental health services and supports available and accessible, where and when they are needed. Mental health assessments and treatments must be evidence-based and delivered by health providers whose expertise includes an understanding of the issues specific to military populations. The Strategy’s attention to the mental health needs of members of the military at times of career transition, is especially important. Further, the Strategy’s attention to wellness and resilience stands to benefit members, no matter their state of mental health or illness. Finally, the CPA appreciates the Strategy’s attention to streamlining its administrative processes that may get in the way of efficient access to needed services and supports.

K. R. Cohen, Ph.D., C. Psych.
Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Psychological Association


Public Health Agency of Canada

I would like to congratulate Veterans Affairs Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces for the development of this Canadian Armed Forces-Veterans Affairs Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy.

This Strategy marks an important step in addressing suicide as a serious public health issue and acknowledges the conditions and stresses that many men and women face throughout their military service and transition out of active duty. It builds on the spirit of collaboration set out in the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention and provides a concrete example of the Government of Canada's efforts to work together to prevent suicide in Canada. Every suicide deeply affects families, friends and entire communities.

We look forward, and remain committed, to continued collaboration with our federal colleagues and mental health and suicide prevention stakeholders on this complex issue.

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada


Chair of the 2016 Mental Health Expert Panel on Suicide Prevention in the Canadian Armed Forces

This is an outstanding strategy that builds on evidence-based treatments and previous reports. The partnership between CAF and VAC is highly valued in addressing the important vulnerable period of transition to civilian life.

Jitender Sareen MD, FRCPC
Professor and Head
Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba

The mental health of our men and women in uniform is, and always has been, a priority for Canadian Forces Health Services and the medical professionals of the Canadian Armed Forces. I am encouraged and supportive of the Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy for our CAF members and Veterans. Our leadership is taking a holistic approach to suicide prevention, and finding additional ways to ensure all those in uniform, and those who wore the uniform, have the tools, programs, services, help, and support they need, when they need it. I am hopeful this strategy provides insight and guidence to assist those who may go through difficult times.

Brigadier-General A.M.T. Downes, CD
Surgeon General, Canadian Armed Forces


Canadian Mental Health Association

Suicide prevention is a major public health priority for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and ensuring that the members serving in the Canadian Armed Forces and our many Veterans' mental health needs are supported is of paramount importance to us.

That is why we are so pleased to support the important work done by the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge the effort put forth by CAF and VAC on their joint suicide prevention strategy. An alignment between these two ministerial bodies is significant because together we can ensure that members of our armed forces and Veterans are supported before they fall into suicidal thoughts and ideation.

Suicide is complex. There is not a single cause nor a single program that can address it. Thus, working with partners and levering each other’s expertise can go a long way to bring forward practical solutions.

CMHA is a proud member of the mental health Advisory Committee to the Minister of Veteran's Affairs, where we play a key role in assisting VAC to fulfill its mental health mandate.

Dr. Patrick Smith
National Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)


Mood Disorders Society of Canada

The importance and great value of the CAF and VAC jointly developing and working on this suicide prevention strategy cannot be overstated. This shared partnership aligned with the direct engagement of stakeholder organizations and health care providers/mental health experts, will be very effective through the lines-of-effort approach. This closer working relationship on many fronts will also serve to identify earlier at-risk members/Veterans before they possibly reach points where suicide becomes a part of their thinking process.

MDSC experienced through the process that all recommendations brought forward were listened to by the advisory groups and debated and accepted. We are very encouraged to see all of the recommendations from the Mental Health Advisory Group have been included within the strategy action plan.

The Mood Disorders Society of Canada is very pleased with this Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy and believe that this is a crucially important step forward. The members of the Canadian Armed Forces and our Veterans will be well served by the action plans within this document. Through the effective implementation of all strategy action items, and with the support and engagement of all stakeholder organizations, we will be successful in reducing risks during service as well as during transition to the community and post-service.

Dave Gallson
National Executive Director
Mood Disorders Society of Canada


I commend the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada for the work they are doing to help Canadian Armed Forces Members and Veterans in crisis.

Suicide knows no age, economic, social or ethnic boundaries and the death of one Serving Member or Veteran by suicide has a ripple effect on families, friends, and communities. The Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy announcement demonstrates a whole-of-government approach and shines a brighter light on this important issue for our military men, women, and Veterans.

The Rt. Honourable Adrienne Clarkson
PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD
Former Governor General of Canada


Mental Health Commission of Canada

On the heels of World Suicide Prevention Day, the Mental Health Commission of Canada applauds the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada for taking bold and decisive steps to implement a joint suicide prevention strategy.

We are gratified to see a strategy that promotes a whole-of-community approach, and strives to improve access to integrated treatment for substance use and mental health problems. These planks echo foundational recommendations laid out in the Mental Health Strategy for Canada.

The MHCC has been proud to collaborate with CAF and VAC in various capacities, including the adaptation of Road to Mental Readiness for civilian populations, and the development of Mental Health First Aid (Veteran Community). We look forward to supporting the roll-out of this Suicide Prevention Strategy, and learning from the accompanying research and evaluation, which will enhance our collective understanding of evidence-based best practices.

Louise Bradley
President and Chief Executive Officer


Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones

The Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy takes into consideration the many aspects of building and rebuilding resilience. Traditional ceremonies and spirituality is something that has had benefit to a number of indigenous and non-indigenous Veterans. By connecting back to Mother Earth and nature, the mind is calmed and we actually process some of the horrors witnessed and experienced. Sweat lodges, as well as other ceremonies, help to discharge our emotions with total confidentiality of the group and reinforces the respect we hold for each other. Our Elders are our spiritual guides as we journey on the path to recovery. The bottom line is that Elders listen without interruption. The Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy emphasizes that there is no one solution; that open listening without judgment is essential; that being connected to your community, your neighbours, and your family all help in the journey to mental and physical well-being.

Robert (Bob) Thibeau
President, Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones

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