Dr. Sandra Allison, the Chief Medical Health Officer with Northern Health, says it’s not really well understood but she says one reason could be the boom or bust cycles that rural communities typically see…
“In Alberta what we are able to observe unfortunately is after the oil crisis was an increase in suicides. Similarly in a resource dependent society and the population like northern British Columbia, changes in our economy can be very impactful to people so that is one of the biggest things.”
Dr. Allison says lifestyle also plays a role…
“Certainly people in northern and rural regions, many of them are hunters, and some of the data suggests that a likelihood of access to a firearm in the home may contribute to higher suicide rates.”
Dr. Allison says isolation can also have an impact on the numbers in rural British Columbia.
As for what Northern Health is doing to try and address this, she says they form partnerships with other agencies, municipalities and the RCMP to name just a few examples.
She says Northern Health also had a youth mental wellness campaign that just wrapped up in June.
“Many youth are taking it up. It’s in spaces like instagram and other social media, and we’re seeing some really good responses, so we will be continuing to use that material in the schools.”