Medicine Hat is the latest community to deal with a spike in suicides, and the police force is dedicating an officer to look into it.
Already this year, there have been four confirmed suicides and 33 attempts, a 60 per cent rise from this time last year.
Inspector Brent Secondiak with Medicine Hat Police says they don’t know why this is happening, but it could be linked to the poor economy or methamphetamine.
“We don’t have any one cause, specifically, of the attempted suicides. We assume that it’s probably multi-faceted but we don’t have any specific concrete determination of any one factor that’s influenced it.”
Since they are unsure of why there has been a rash of suicides so far this year, an officer has been assigned to figure out what’s happening.
“His job will be to look at all the stats, to deal with Alberta Health Services and with several other agencies within Medicine Hat and hopefully in an attempt to deal with some of these crisis calls more efficiently, more effectively and get these people the help they need,” says Secondiak.
Police receive about three calls per day from people with mental health issues, sometimes from one person calling multiple times.
If this rate continues, there could be a suicide or suicide attempt every 2.8 days, and at the end of the year the toll could rise to 14 suicides.
Suicides have also been increasing for a couple of years, after an initial increase in 2014.
A distress line is available 24/7 1-800-784-2433 and the mental health help line is 1-877-303-2642.