The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Alberta Southeast Division is receiving more than $220,000 from the Alberta government to support timely access to quality suicide prevention information, awareness and training programs.

“Suicide is a preventable tragedy, support is available and there are always options. I am heartbroken for the community, and the friends and families who have lost loved ones. Alberta’s government has been actively engaged with AHS and local community agencies to ensure a coordinated response, and enhanced services are available to meet the needs.”

Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Funding will support the delivery of the SafeTalk, Straight Talk and Tattered Teddies workshops. These are free workshops offered to anyone interested in learning about the warning signs of suicide among adults, youth and children. In addition, a skills-based suicide prevention training program for the general community will be offered.

The organization will also raise awareness about available suicide prevention resources including Buddy Up, a suicide prevention campaign that encourages men to help each other and access services if they need them.

As well, families already accessing bereavement supports through private counselling will receive support to continue accessing these services.

The CMHA also recently received $100,000 through the government’s COVID-19 community grant program to expand an addiction crisis program in Medicine Hat that offers outreach supports to adults and youth.

“We are saddened by the recent suicides in Medicine Hat and want everyone to know there is hope and that suicide is a preventable tragedy. We are committed to supporting those who need it and are hopeful this increase in services will provide the necessary suicide prevention education our community needs.”

Erin Reeder, suicide prevention coordinator, CMHA

Strong collaboration between stakeholders in the Medicine Hat area is resulting in a variety of short- and long-term initiatives dedicated to raising awareness about available suicide prevention and mental health resources and how to access them.

Partners include the provincial and municipal governments, Alberta Health Services, the Canadian Mental Health Association, school divisions, Medicine Hat Police Service, RCMP and community groups.

“As a community we have grieved together at the loss of those who have suffered from mental illness. The additional funding announced today will improve access to the professional support these families need, but also provide workshops, training and education to help prevent any further tragedies. Thank you to Minister Luan for his recognition of our need here in the Medicine Hat area for increased support.”

Drew Barnes, MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

“Over the past few months, our community in Medicine Hat has experienced heartbreaking loss, but it has also come together strongly to provide support and offer a hand to our friends and neighbours who have lost loved ones, and for that I am grateful. This additional funding from Alberta’s government will further support these families and raise awareness of the vast resources available to those who need them.”

Michaela Glasgo, MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat

“Medicine Hat has been hit disproportionately hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing the loss of so many young men throughout the city. The families and the community continue to grieve knowing that children are left without fathers, wives are without their husbands and parents are without their children. On behalf of the City of Medicine Hat, I thank the Government of Alberta for their contribution to our community. The funding for workshops and suicide prevention resources is greatly appreciated.”

Ted Clugston, mayor, City of Medicine Hat

“Our deepest sympathies go out to all of those affected by the tragic losses of life in Medicine Hat. In response, we have worked along with up to 15 community agencies, provincial teams and international experts to guide our response as we communicate the supports and help available. We support CMHA as a vital organization to continue the collaborative community response.”

Linda Iwasiw, interim chief zone officer, South Zone, Alberta Health Services

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or requires mental health support, help is available. Call the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free, confidential and anonymous. Call 911 in an emergency.

Quick facts

  • Last year, the provincial government announced $140 million over four years to enhance the mental health and addiction care system.
  • In response to COVID-19, the government invested more than $53 million to enhance online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction supports during and after the pandemic. Of this, $25 million is dedicated to fund community grants.
  • The CMHA is a national organization that provides compassionate support, responsible care and accessible resources. The Alberta Division includes eight regional offices, including one in Medicine Hat, and the Centre for Suicide Prevention.