Vancouver Community College (VCC), along with half of B.C.’s colleges and universities, have collaborated to produce Canada's first suicide prevention videos that speak directly to post-secondary students.
Two four-minute stories and three half-minute clips depict a student grappling with suicidal ideation as friends and others in their life reach out to offer support. The videos were developed to encourage students to reach out if they are struggling, as well as to provide evidence-based approaches for those supporting someone facing these challenges.
Creating these videos helps address a recognized need for young Canadians. Close to 500 people in Canada aged 15-24 died by suicide in 2020, accounting for 20 per cent of overall deaths in that demographic.
Studies suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has also caused post-secondary students to face mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety, as well as increased drinking and substance use.
“The unprecedented challenges of the past two years have added to the already immense pressure young people are facing,” says Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “These videos are an important tool to encourage more open and honest conversations and connect students to the supports that they need.”
Educators and facilitators will use these videos in workshops, classrooms, social media campaigns and more. Filmed with the latest research into suicide prevention in mind, they include content warnings and directions to resources for immediate support.
The videos are accessible to the public through Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses, an initiative of the Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division (CMHA BC) that promotes mental wellness at colleges and universities. A digital handbook is also available to give guidelines for appropriate and effective use.
Collaborating schools include Capilano University, Douglas College, Justice Institute of BC, Langara College, North Island College, Northern Lights College, Okanagan College, Royal Roads University, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Community College, and University of the Fraser Valley.
“This collaborative effort between 12 BC post-secondary institutions, with an investment from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, has created an important suicide prevention education tool,” says Jonny Morris, CEO of CMHA BC. “These powerful resources help shine a light on noticing distress, listening to understand, and seeking help when we are concerned about a member of our community.”
The project was funded through the B.C. Campus Suicide Prevention Grant, which was awarded to various colleges and universities in 2021 by CMHA BC in partnership with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction (MMHA).
The suicide prevention videos can be viewed on VCC's YouTube channel. Please note the videos contain material that may be distressing for some viewers.