October 24th, 2020

Medicine Hat’s suicide numbers are on pace to double last year’s

By GILLIAN SLADE on October 3, 2020.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

If the current trend continues Medicine Hat could see double the number of suicides this year compared to 2019.

Police chief Andy McGrogan calls it alarming.

“Just a tragedy,” he said.

There were five suicides in the whole of 2019, three males and two females.

So far this year there have been eight confirmed suicides, seven males and one female, with a quarter of the year to go.

McGrogan says some of the people this year knew each other. Sadly there were others whom they associated with, in other communities, who also took their own lives.

“Whatever made that tragedy occur I don’t know,” said McGrogan, noting that some were the age of his own son and it hit home.

McGrogan says there is no reason to believe anything suspicious has occurred.

He says the Canadian Mental Health Association and Alberta Health Services are working hard to get a handle on this situation.

“The message would be to have people call if they need help. There are all kinds of suicide prevention lines and mental health lines,” said McGrogan. “Reach out and talk to somebody.”

It is difficult to know whether the statistics relate to COVID-19 in any way, but there has been additional stress that did not exist in 2019, said McGrogan.

Nearly all of the suicides this year have taken place since the beginning of May.

“I know there are people in the community working very hard to prevent further suicides,” said McGrogan.

The number for the distress centre is 1-800-784-2433.

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