Thursday, 30 May 2024
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CanadaEducation

Most colleges in Canada don’t keep tabs on student suicides

  • Over 70% of Canadian institutions do not keep track of student deaths or attempted suicides.
  • Since the pandemic, mental health and suicide are becoming concerns on campuses for postsecondary education.
  • Universities place a high focus on mental health, with many highlighting the rise in counselling.

Over 70% of Canadian institutions do not keep track of student deaths or attempted suicides, according to a CBC News exclusive investigation. It is challenging to gauge the scope of the problem due to this lack of information.

The research sought data for the previous five years from 52 of the biggest universities in the nation to determine whether they keep track of suicide deaths as well as suicide attempts. Of the 24 schools that did not track, only six gave CBC the actual numbers. Five other schools responded to the request but did not address the tracking question. Five more schools stated they track medical incidents but not always suicide.

Student suicides

Since precise data helps academics develop “novel innovative tools” for suicide prevention and gives schools a greater understanding of the efficacy of their mental health programs, experts argue that knowledge truly is power. Since the pandemic, mental health and suicide are becoming concerns on campuses for postsecondary education.

According to a September 2022 assessment released by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, three-quarters of students had negative effects from the epidemic for three years in a row. Additionally, pupils from marginalized backgrounds and younger children are more vulnerable.

Universities place a high focus on mental health, with many highlighting the rise in counseling and other services over the past few years. However, some schools have difficulties gathering accurate statistics because, for example, the majority of their students commute, or their student bodies are too small. Due to privacy issues, 18 out of the 52 schools said they were unable to track or disclose data on student suicides.

The difficulties of getting institutional recognition for student suicides were faced by institutional of Waterloo student Andrea Howell. Her family was willing to grieve, but the institution didn’t want to talk about what had happened.

In order to better inform choices about public health, Howell encouraged the Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner to include a “student” category for suicides. Four years after it was made, the modification became enforceable in 2023. Coroners in British Columbia and Quebec do not keep a systematic record of suicides by post-secondary students. Howell expects that the data will inspire more decisions on public health in the future.

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