TORONTO — The NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions, Bhutila Karpoche, released the following statement to mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2020:
"On World Suicide Prevention Day, I want to acknowledge everyone who is struggling with suicidality and suicidal thoughts, now or in the past. I want to acknowledge your experience, whatever it looks like, and your pain. Mental health is health, and everyone deserves the treatment and resources they need to feel healthy and whole. To everyone supporting a loved one who is, or has, experienced suicidality and suicidal thoughts, I see you. You and your families deserve the utmost care and support.
Suicide remains the second leading cause of death among young people in Canada. These numbers are higher in Indigenous communities, particularly those in remote or isolated areas. These numbers are higher among people who are pushed to the margins, including those in the LGBTQ2 community. That is why I tabled a Private Member’s Bill Right to Timely Mental Health and Addictions Care for Children and Youth Act, which would cap wait times for children and youth seeking mental health & addiction services at 30 days.
Mental illness, addiction, and mental health distress are immensely difficult at any time. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused or intensified mental health struggles, including suicidality. The financial pressures so many are facing due to lost jobs and wages, including those who already living in financial precarity; the anxiety and distress folks are facing regarding the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones; the distress caused by precarious housing and looming evictions; the isolation of months spent at home, of parenting without support or respite; the ongoing crisis of systemic racism and violence against Black, Indigenous and racialized people; have all caused enormous psychological and emotional distress.
Governments in Ontario and Canada continue to fail people when it comes to investing in the mental health and addictions services and supports that are so desperately needed, and in basic services like affordable housing, transit and access to health care, which help keep people well. Doug Ford cut $330 million from planned mental health funding. He cut affordable housing and youth programming. He cut funding for supervised injection sites in the midst of an opioid crisis. In the middle of a pandemic, he has passed legislation that makes it easier for landlords to evict tenants.
The Ontario NDP will continue bringing attention to the crises of suicidality, mental illness and addiction. We will continue to fight for funding that ensures everyone in Ontario has access to the mental health treatment and supports they need and deserve."