Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty is hoping Canada will adopt 988 as a universal nationwide suicide prevention hotline. (Angie Mindus Photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty is hoping Canada will adopt 988 as a universal nationwide suicide prevention hotline. (Angie Mindus Photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Doherty calls for national suicide prevention hotline

The Cariboo-Prince George MP hopes Canada will follow the U.S. and adopt 988

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty is hoping Canada will adopt a nationwide suicide prevention hotline so residents coast to coast can get the help they need.

Doherty raised the issue during the House of Commons Question Period Oct. 22 in Ottawa.

“Because the rate of suicide across our country is at near-epidemic rates, suicide is now amongst the leading causes of death in Canada,” he said. “Today, 10 Canadians will end their lives by suicide and up to another 200 will attempt to do so.”

Doherty told the House of Commons the United States has “taken concrete action to combat suicide” by passing the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. He hopes Canada will do the same.

”Starting in 2022, a simple, easy-to-remember number, 988, will be the national universal telephone number to reach the national suicide prevention hotline,” he said. “Will this government commit to doing so?”

After Doherty brought it up in the House of Commons, Health Minister Patty Hadju said she looks forward to talking to him more about the idea.

“Far too many of us can say we’ve been impacted by people who have taken their own lives,” she said. “I want to tell the member opposite I am very interested in his idea, and I look forward to talking with him later about what that might look like in Canada. He’s absolutely right — we have to do more, Mr. Speaker, not just to prevent suicide but to support people who are struggling with their mental health, no matter where they live in this country.”

Doherty was named the Conservatives’ Special Advisor to the Leader on Mental Health and Wellness in early September.

Since being elected in October 2015, Doherty has been a strong advocate of mental health awareness. His Private Member’s Bill C-211 (An Act respecting a federal framework on post-traumatic stress disorder) was passed unanimously and received royal assent in June 2018. The federal framework was released earlier this year and became the first of its kind in Canada and the world.

In January 2019, Doherty tabled a new Private Members Bill, Bill C-425, to establish June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day.

READ MORE: Mental Illness awareness important to Cariboo-Prince George MP



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