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Ontario Hospital Association Begins Work to Prevent Suicide

TORONTO (June 26, 2015) – The Ontario Hospital Association’s newly-established Suicide Prevention Standards Task Force began work today to develop mandatory suicide prevention standards for hospitals in Ontario. The OHA was asked by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to develop these new mandatory standards earlier this year.


“Ontario hospitals are committed to keeping patients safe while providing the highest quality patient care,” said Dr. Ian Dawe, Chair of the Suicide Prevention Standards Task Force and Physician-in-Chief, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, and Mental Health & Addictions Lead, Central East LHIN. “While rigorous policies are already in place to assess and monitor the risk of suicide, Ontario hospitals are leaders in patient care and are committed to regularly reviewing our processes to ensure we are adhering to the highest standards of patient safety and care.” The OHA Task Force will examine policies and protocols for suicide prevention currently in place at Ontario hospitals and review best practices from around the world. By 2016, the Task Force will have newly-established, consistent standards that can be applied across the province to reduce the number of persons who have died by suicide while receiving hospital care.


Improving services and care for people with mental health and addiction challenges is part of the government’s Action Plan for Health Care, Patients First and the Comprehensive Mental Health Strategy¸ Open Minds, Healthy Minds.


Approximately 30 per cent of Ontarians will experience a mental health and/or substance abuse challenge at some point of their lifetime, with one out of 40 Ontarians experiencing a serious mental illness, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.


“Suicide is an extremely tragic outcome and devastating for the family and friends of the patient, as well as the care providers,” said Anthony Dale, President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association. “The safety of patients is the first priority of Ontario hospitals, and we are constantly working with them to help improve the care provided.”


The OHA has been working closely with government to enhance mental health care for a number of years. In 2011, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the OHA released Suicide Risk Assessment Guidelines to assist Canadian healthcare organizations in standardizing the process of suicide risk assessment by presenting a framework and creating an inventory of commonly-used assessment tools.


The members of the Suicide Prevention Standards Task Force include:

  • Dr. Ian Dawe, Physician-in-Chief, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, and Mental Health & Addictions Lead, Central East LHIN (OHA Task Force Chair);
  • Margaret Doma, Director, Risk, Legal and Medical Affairs, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton;
  • Dr. Jennifer Brasch, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University
  • Ann Pottinger, Director, Quality, Patient Safety and Risk, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH);
  • Dr. David Koczerginski, Chief of Psychiatry, Medical Director, Mental Health and Addictions, William Osler Health System
  • Beth Hamer, Practice Leader, Nurse Educator, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
  • Dr. Paul Links, Chair/Chief, Department of Psychiatry, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London and London Health Sciences Centre
  • Mark Henick, Program Manager, Mental Health Works, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario
  • Dr. Simon Hatcher, The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group
  • Penny Knapp, Founder of Survivor of Suicide Loss - Canada and Globally
  • Dr. Mary Ann Mountain, Director of Community Mental Health, St. Joseph’s Care Group, Thunder Bay
  • Paivi Kattilakoski, Accreditation Specialist, Accreditation Canada


Ontario Hospital Association The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is the voice of Ontario’s public hospitals. Founded in 1924, the OHA uses advocacy, education and partnerships to build a strong, innovative and sustainable health care system for all Ontarians.

For more information: Michelle MacLeod Public Affairs Specialist
416-205-1588 mmacleod@oha.com