Suicide prevention Private Members Bill passes in Saskatchewan Legislature

A private member’s bill from the NDP on suicide prevention has passed in the provincial Legislature.

The bill was introduced by addictions and mental health critic Doyle Vermette, which is the third time he has introduced this legislation.

The last time this legislation was defeated, it led to the “Walking with our Angels” protest that saw Tristen Durocher walk from Air Ronge to Regina and camp in front of the Legislative building for 44 days while fasting.

Vermette says this comes after years of hard work to get all sides to agree.

“To the families that lost loved ones back home — I’m thinking about everyone — this is your victory, this is (for) everyone who’s walked, signed a petition, mother, father, grandparent that’s lost a loved one who asked us ‘don’t give up.’”

The bill mandates the ministry of health to begin consulting with stakeholders and groups within the first 180 days to develop an improved suicide prevention strategy.

Vermette says now consultation can begin.

“There’s many groups doing great work when it comes to mental health, but this way I think it’s going to have the ministry of health have some serious looks and have some teeth into it,” Vermette said. “There’s other jurisdictions doing amazing when it comes to youth suicides, and we can learn. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Mental health and addictions minister Everett Hindley says this builds on to the Pillars for Life suicide prevention strategy unveiled last year.

“There was $1.24 million in last year’s budget and another million committed to Pillars for Life this year, consultations began shortly after Pillars for Life was launched last May and they’re ongoing right now,” Hindley said. “As a matter of fact, I think the ‘Pillars team,’ as they call them, had a meeting just recently as a week or so ago, and there’ll be additional consultations taking place.”

The bill also directs the ministry of health to report on the progress of the suicide prevention strategy annually.

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