The Surgeon General announces the release of the Canadian Armed Forces Clinician Handbook on Suicide Prevention

News release

October 3, 2018 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Today, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) released the CAF Clinician Handbook on Suicide Prevention as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week. The Canadian Armed Forces Clinician Handbook on Suicide Prevention is a key initiative of the Suicide Prevention Strategy, previously announced on October 5, 2017.

The handbook is a new tool, developed in partnership with the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA), to ensure continued best practice, evidence-based care is provided to our members by our CAF health care clinicians.

The handbook was written for Canadian Forces Health Services mental health and primary care clinicians (military, public servants, and contracted staff) who are responsible for health care delivery to CAF members. It will provide CAF clinicians with a formalized and standardized approach to identify, screen, and manage patients at risk for suicide.


“Our government recognizes the sacrifices military personnel make in the service of our country, which is why we are committed to ensuring the women and men of our Canadian Armed Forces receive the highest standard of care and support. I am pleased to deliver the Canadian Armed Forces Clinician Handbook on Suicide Prevention. Suicide is a deeply complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon with no single cause and no simple solution. I am optimistic that the handbook will enable the Canadian Armed Forces Health Services Group to prevent suicide among our members.”

Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Defence

“Clinicians working in the Canadian Armed Forces health system are proud of the quality of care that they provide. The Clinician Handbook on Suicide Prevention will augment the clinical expertise already present in Canadian Forces Health Services Clinics, and will provide them with additional decision-making tools.”

Brigadier-General Andrew Downes, Surgeon General

"As clinicians working on the front line of mental health services, psychiatrists strive to create a safe environment in which people can heal. This manual continues that spirit of recovery and healing. With suicide being the third leading cause of mortality among Canadian Armed Forces personnel, the Canadian Psychiatric Association is proud to be a partner in this important initiative that will provide improved care and support for the brave men and women who serve Canada."

Dr. Wei-Yi Song, President, Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA)

Quick facts

  • The handbook is aligned with current evidence-based best practices in the field of suicide prevention and was developed specifically for CAF clinicians.

  • The handbook will serve as a resource for primary care and mental health clinicians to use when assessing, screening, and managing CAF patients at risk for suicide.

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Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353

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