In 1988, the Ottawa–Carleton Health Committee asked the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department to prepare a report on suicides in the region. In response, the Health Department organized community consultation meetings with over 100 individuals from different organizations to ascertain what was being done in the area of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention and to measure the support for a coordinated effort in the region.
In September 1989, an Interim Regional Suicide Prevention Coordinator was hired by the Health Department to develop a regional suicide prevention program. The first meeting of the Regional Interagency Suicide Program (RISP) Committee was held in January 1990 with 24 key agency representatives.
In the next six years, RISP would work on a coordinated effort with regard to suicide prevention.
It worked on the following key areas:
- Emergency hospital follow-up relating to those who self injure (monies were not secured to continue with a demonstration project).
- An integrated mental health approach to suicide prevention in the schools.
- The coordination of Living Works Education Suicide Prevention Workshop through CMHA Ottawa-Carleton Branch.
- The development of several education tools: Suicide Prevention: Manual for trainers; Suicide: Media Resource Book; Suicide Prevention: Guideline for Agency Management and Personnel.
- Suicide Intervention sessions for medical students.
- The planning and development of a Post Suicide Debriefing Team.
In 1996-97 the Health Department due to funding cuts eliminated the RISP Coordinator position and put out a call for proposals within the community to see if any organizations were prepared to continue to support the work of RISP Committee.
The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ottawa-Carleton Branch and the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region partnered to apply for funds to support RISP. They received funds to support the work of the committee, to distribute existing materials developed by RISP, to support the Post Suicide Debriefing Team and to organize an annual event. The full-time support that was previously available to the RISP Committee was impossible to maintain with the reduced funding, but CMHA and Distress Centre have given many hours of in-kind monies to support the Committee since 1997. In 1999, the terms of reference for the Committee were revised, followed by a name change to the "Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition". The Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition continues its mission, which is:
Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition
Who are we?
The Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition members
represent agencies involved with suicide prevention as well as individuals who
have experienced suicidal behaviour and family member survivors of suicide.
The Coalition is housed at Canadian Mental Health Association, Ottawa Branch
and is supported by CMHA staff. The Coalition is funded by City of Ottawa Community Renewable Fund .
The Ottawa Suicide Prevention Coalition works in
partnership with the Ottawa Community to develop and support a comprehensive
strategy to prevent suicide.
- To maintain the integrity of the Ottawa Suicide
Prevention Coalition and its plan in progress·
- To provide a forum for sharing concerns and
gathering information regarding suicide·
- To facilitate the develop of strategies to meet the
needs for suicide prevention , intervention and postvention·
- To inform and educate the public about suicide and
- Support the development of suicide intervention
education and training in the community
- Organize an annual awareness events
- Support survivor of suicide programs
- Support the Post Suicide Debriefing Team
- Develop education tools such as the Suicide
- Inform media re media guide for reporting suicide developed by the Coalition
- Organization of the Post Suicide Debriefing Team and implementation of training for debriefers for the team
- Assisting in the marketing of Living Works Education Programs
- Linkages to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention re a strategy to support the development of a national strategy