Suicide report draws attention to high numbers

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Data suggests P.E.I. numbers comparable to rest of Canada but where is strategy?

A suicide trends report released Thursday addresses a subject long considered taboo on Prince Edward Island. There was so much concern the province’s suicide rate was reaching alarming proportions that the P.E.I. Medical Society passed a resolution calling for the report. Maybe it's because we are a tightknit community in a small province that people are more aware that many sudden deaths are actually suicides.

Most times police will refer to suicides as a sudden death out of respect and compassion for the family who are left reeling while trying to deal with the shock and anguish.

The report covers the year 2002-2011 and shows P.E.I.’s rates are comparable to the rest of Canada. That should not ease anyone’s concerns. NDP Leader Mike Redmond would like to see the data for 2012 and 2013 because he thinks the numbers are even higher those two years and that actual totals are being downplayed. There was a four to five week period late last summer when each week a young Islander took his own life. Those were followed by the highly publicized death of a former MLA, and people jumping to their deaths off the Hillsborough Bridge and North River Causeway.

Each one left us shocked to see a friend or neighbour die, and one can only imagine what the families were feeling. Could some of those deaths have been prevented with a suicide prevention strategy and better response to timely services from mental health and addictions resources? It’s a topic the province must address.

. . . Some weekend thoughts

. . .The P.E.I. potato empire is striking back. After being assailed on all sides recently for asking the province to remove the moratorium on deep-water wells for irrigation, the P.E.I Potato Board is carefully hinting at an obvious question. How do deep-water wells for irrigation differ, for example, from a new well-field in Milton to provide more water for the thirsty residents and businesses in Charlottetown after the city has drained the Winter River watershed virtually dry? As board chairman Gary Linkletter points out, deep-water well permit applications are regularly approved for municipal and business use, but farmers have been under a moratorium since 2001. He says the science supports “responsible supplemental irrigation.”

. . . Washington Capitals rightwinger Joel Ward gave a glowing account of his four years with the UPEI Panthers during a lengthy interview Monday on the NHL Network as part of the league’s salute to Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S. Ward was recruited by Panthers coach Doug Currie, now P.E.I.’s health minister, and after a starry four-year career at UPEI (2001 to 2005), Ward has played over 400 games in the NHL with Minnesota, Nashville and now Washington. Ward said King Jr. inspired him to live his dream, as did Jackie Robinson who broke the colour barrier in major league baseball. He wears Robinson’s number 42. Ward calls P.E.I. his adopted home because of the good times, cherished memories and top calibre hockey at UPEI.

. . . When is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford going to realize that iPhones and booze don’t mix? If the mayor is going to party maybe he should asked his so-called friends and guests to check their mobile phones at the door and ask restaurant staff to limit their duties to carrying plates and glasses and not have iPhones operating under their aprons. He must know he is Canada’s favourite moving target and wherever he goes, cell phones are sure to follow. The mayor fell off the wagon this week after vowing last fall to never drink again, and went on a racist Jamaican patois rant, all recorded on social media.

Organizations: P.E.I. Medical Society, NHL, P.E.I Potato Board Washington Capitals

Geographic location: Canada, Prince Edward Island, North River Causeway Charlottetown Minnesota Nashville Toronto

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