More concerns are being raised about how suicidal people are cared for in emergency departments in Nova Scotia.
A spokesperson said yesterday that the Nova Scotia Health Authority is aware some people it sends away do end up committing suicide.
“It’s not shocking,” said Bev Cadham, a co-manager for the Canadian Mental Health Association‘s Halifax-Dartmouth branch.
She said going to an emergency room for help is a huge effort on the part of the person struggling.
“We need to provide the services they require in a timely manner and address them in that moment,” said Cadham.
That requires more funding for mental health services, preventative measures in particular, she added.
More stories of being sent home despite telling emergency services staff about being suicidal have are being brought forward after a woman detailed her friend’s situation on Tuesday.
When asked about the issue in Province House Thursday afternoon, Jamie Baillie, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, said more needs to be done by the provincial government.
“These are lives that can be saved if they get the treatment they need. This is a crisis,” he told reporters.
“This could be an area that we do need to take a look at,” said Leo Glavine, the province’s minister of health and wellness, when asked about the issue prior.
Laura Burke said she was turned away from a Nova Scotia emergency room on two occasions a decade ago while feeling suicidal.
“Finally, after a mild, sort of, half-hearted attempt, I was admitted,” she said.
Burke has since gotten better and become a psychotherapist.
Suicidal people who are sent home from emergency rooms are given options for other care, including through the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team and Community Mental Health Services.
That treatment works for a number of people but Burke said, through her experience, there can be significant wait times for that help.
“So it’s just not adequate, and it’s a really high-risk thing to do,” she added.