Ugo Giguere, Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Suicide is not an option. Can we make this statement a promise to ourselves to which 8.6 million Quebecians are committed? The Quebec Society for Suicide Prevention (AQPS) and its CEO, Jérôme Gaudreault, testified on Monday as part of the Forensic Medicine Institute’s public investigation into the theme of suicide in Quebec.
In Mr. Gaudreault’s view, a broad campaign spanning several years, distributing resources at all levels, could lead to a profound culture change in Quebec society so that suicide is no longer seen as a solution to suffering.
“A profound change can happen when each of us, both individually and collectively, makes a commitment that suicide is not an acceptable way of escaping distress,” Me Julie-Kim Godin, coroner in Trois-Rivières, told the court. Courthouse.
He pointed out that through several decades of sustained awareness campaigns, legislative changes and behavioral transformation, Quebec has reduced the number of road accident deaths from around 1,500 in 1980 to 347 in 2021. By way of comparison, we list an average of 1,100 deaths. He commits suicide every year in Quebec.
Can we get the same power as death by suicide?
In a way, this is the justification offered by the CEO of AQPS, who regrets that suicide prevention has never been the subject of a real national campaign. To further fuel the inconvenience, even National Suicide Prevention Week does not benefit from recurring public funding and must rely on sponsors to survive.
Jérôme Gaudreault remembers that when we collectively decide to act on the roads, we act on all fronts. We acted according to the law, awareness raising, road safety, vehicle safety, we watched more closely the drunk driving and the results are amazing.
If we were to transfer this strategy to the cause of suicide, Mr. Gaudreault would like us to emphasize the notoriety of sources of help, the stigmatization of distress, the encouragement of seeking help, and the promotion of protective factors.
“We never had a chance to have that effect,” she regrets.
However, the situation could change if the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, announced last month, is finally implemented. In particular, it provides an investment of 65 million dollars.
In an interview with Canadian Press after his presentation, Mr. Gaudreault returned to the concept of “social prohibition” that once aggravated the gesture of killing. There was no question of taking action under the weight of religion or even the law that criminalized it.
If this social ban fell at the same time as the Church’s yoke, Mr. Gaudreault believes it could be revived in another way by tightening the social safety net. In his view, family circles, circles of friends, sports teams, peer groups, or social groups should serve as opportunities to talk about prevention and reach out for help.
The public inquiry, chaired by Me Godin, is at the recommendations and representations stage. The ultimate goal of this study is for the coroner to make recommendations to help prevent other tragedies.
Note that this public inquiry was ordered by Quebec Attorney General Me Pascale Descary in September 2019 following the deaths of Mikhaël Ryan, Joceline Lamothe, Suzie Aubé, Jean-François Lussier, Marc Boudreau and Dave Murray.
If you are in a difficult situation and are looking for help, several resources are available:
– Tel-Jeunes: https://www.teljeunes.com/Accueil
– Suicide Act Montreal: 1 866 277-3553