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|Best Wishes for the New Year|
In This Issue
The Power of Persistance
Who was William Wilberforce?
Changing Social Policy in Ontario,
Bringing social and political change can be a long, frustrating process.
That's what Arnold Devlin, chairman of the Ontario Suicide Prevention Network (OSPN), can tell you. For thirteen years, the OSPN has been lobbying the Ontario government for a provincial suicide prevention plan and the budget to back it up.
Ontario has produced many specialists in the field of suicide prevention (several on the board and advisory committee of the OSPN), and many of these professionals have traveled around the world, helping other countries in Europe and Asia form national strategies of suicide prevention. Yet, Canada has yet to form its own national strategy, and Ontario is one of few provinces that does not have a provincial plan for suicide prevention.
"Ontario has the highest provincial rate of completed suicides," says Devlin. "Yet the province isn't spending a dime." The jurisdiction for suicide prevention in the province lies with the Ministry of Health Awareness. The OSPN has met with its working committee, and in spite of the fact that they've done some good research on other countries' plans, Devlin doesn't sense they are getting closer to an action plan.
Part of the problem is that there is the misconception that talking publicly about suicide will increase the rate of suicides. Devlin doesn't agree. "It's a myth," he says bluntly. "People need to know that it's ok to talk about suicide, and that there is help available." And he also points to the Canadian mindset. "It's part of the Canadian survivor mentality - to grin and bear it."
These factors are not helping people cope with difficult situations. It distresses Devlin that a survey on methods for coping with stress showed that for people under thirty, suicide is in the top ten. "It's an option for them!" he says incredulously. "And there's no active campaign, no one saying you shouldn't do it."
In spite of the lack of a provincial or national strategy, suicide prevention has not been abandoned in Ontario. It's a local based, grassroots movement, formed by concerned citizens. "Police are often in the front lines of suicide prevention," says Devlin, "because they are the ones who get called in the case of a suicide." Others who often join in the fight are educators, who deal with the grief of youth suicide, the highest segment of the population affected by suicide. Mental health care providers, health care professionals, and survivors of suicide lend their help. Distress Centres provide much needed support, but Devlin points out that with a provincial plan and the funding to back it up, much more could be accomplished.
For now, the OSPN focuses on continuing to apply pressure on government and on encouraging those who provide support for those affected by suicide. Both individuals and groups can become members of the agency, and the OSPN provides both educational materials and yearly conferences. As well, the OSPN continues to meet with government officials, speeding toward the day when suicide prevention will become part of both the government's agenda and budget.
DCO Education Committee -
Inclusiveness - all offerings will be accessible by all member centres regardless of size, location or service capability
Flexibility - all offerings will be designed to fit in with or be used in conjunction with existing education and training efforts at a centre's discretion
Enhancement - of all current learning and volunteer management efforts in all locations with a view to helping everyone do their jobs more effectively
Capacity building - all offerings will be dedicated to building the capacity of a Distress Centres' volunteers and staff, and when possible the broader community and partners
Timeliness - all offerings will strive to provide the most recent and up-to-date information possible in a method that utilizes existing and emergent learning methods and tools
Cost effectiveness - of all offerings for the member centres and DCO while looking for supportive partners, existing offerings, and new funding streams
MANDATE: To provide leadership regarding volunteer management issues in the Distress Centre/Line environment.
PURPOSE: The Volunteer Management Committee is a standing committee of DCO whose purpose is to provide recommendations, support and prompt innovation with the management of volunteers to the membership of DCO.
Through-out the month of January the membership will be surveyed for its initial perspectives on a variety of topics. These responses will guide the moderated discussions and visioning that we will participate in.
PLEASE BOOK FEBRUARY 1ST. IN YOUR CALENDARS
Members of the Futures and Visioning Group will be contacting all centres during the first part of the month to answer and questions you may have to to offer you a personal invitation.
MOHLTC - Aging At Home Strategy update
CASP Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention - an update
Distress / Crisis Line Services throughout the world - how volunteers deliver services
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Education Forum 2008
1st weekend in November, 2008 in Ottawa, ON
Commitee and Working Group Meetings -