British Columbia's minister of mental health and addictions has announced $2 million in funding to support enhanced care for people at risk of suicide.
Sheila Malcolmson says the money will be spread across regional health authorities to provide training and resources for health workers caring for people experiencing a mental health crisis, with the aim of reducing suicide deaths.
Malcolmson's ministry says the provincial coroners service investigated 582 suicide deaths last year, down from 597 in 2020 and 634 in 2019.
She told a news conference there's a period of high risk of suicide for psychiatric patients after they are released from care, and improving support during and after a crisis is part of the province's work to "build a continuum of mental health and addictions care."
Leah Hollins, board chair of the Vancouver Island Health Authority, says the funding will help health-care providers update suicide risk management procedures, and ensure they have access to updated educational resources, screening, assessment and treatment planning tools.
Malcolmson says the funding comes as people are grappling with the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, disasters related to extreme weather and the ongoing legacy of residential schools.