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New study shows suicides in Nova Scotia reached record high in 2021

According to the Nova Scotia Government, 142 people in the province died by suicide last year
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New data from the province shows more Nova Scotians died by suicide in 2021 than in previous years.

According to the Nova Scotia government, 142 people in the province died by suicide last year, the highest number ever recorded in the province.

It's an increase from 121 in 2020.

Dr. Simon Sherry is a psychology professor at Dalhousie University and he tells CityNews Halifax this number didn't just appear suddenly.

"We have been in the middle of a suicide crisis in Nova Scotia for some time," said Sherry. "Between 2000 to 2012, Nova Scotia had the highest rising rate of death by suicide of any Canadian province, and really since that jump, it hasn't gone down."

He says a lack of resources is part of the problem, but adds what is known about prevention is not being implemented.

"For instance, when people attempt suicide, they need to be given access to psychological interventions and pharmaceutical interventions that are going to help them from going on to die by suicide," he said. 

He believes the province also needs to do a better job of restricting access to lethal means.

"When you engage in means restriction, you take out of the hands of people who want to die by suicide the means by which they're going to die by suicide," said Sherry. "This could involve taking away ligature points from jails or hospitals, putting barriers on bridges and prescribing medication differently."

According to Sherry, estimates show roughly 20 people are directly and intimately affected by every death by suicide.

In addition, each one has a significant financial impact on our province.

"When somebody dies by suicide, the cost to society is estimated at $2-million," he explained. "We're losing enormous amounts of money through death by suicide."

"We're losing the investments we make in citizens as we train them to be productive and contributing members to our society, and we're losing their future productivity," Sherry added. "So even we want to look at this from a resource scarcity standpoint, we're throwing away money by not preventing suicide in our province." 

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call 911 or Nova Scotia's Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team at 1-888-429-8167.

Chris Halef

About the Author: Chris Halef

Chris is a reporter for and NEWS 95.7. In 2018, he won the RTDNA Dave Rogers Award for best short feature.
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