A silent scourge

Supt. Donald MacLean (King's investigative photo)

Six years ago, the Halifax police teamed up with the Canadian Mental Health Association, the IWK and the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital to form the Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team to respond to those who may be having suicidal thoughts and who call 9-1-1.

“We can sit, we can talk, we can help things get settled, hopefully come up with a plan and let them know they can get a hold of the team 24/7,” says Mary-Beth Flory, clinical practice leader for the crisis team.

But there is only so much that a crisis team can do. Answers to helping those whose mental state pushes them to consider suicide probably have to go far beyond that. Despite the pressing need for improved care for people with mental disorders, there’s shockingly little available for those who consider taking their lives.

Kutcher says the things that work to combat suicide are well known: limiting “access to lethal means,” such as building barriers where people could jump to their deaths; providing better mental health care; and providing more resources to those on the front lines who deal with suicidal individuals.

“That’s the issues we are dealing with,” says Kutcher. “We live in a very complex society and suicide is a complex problem.”

“There are no simple solutions.”

Much loved

Patrick Convey’s funeral was on a Tuesday morning, five days after his death, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the North End. His family was sitting in the first row of pews, in front of a church filled with family and friends.

The priest approached Mike and Mary-Celine and asked them to do something he’d never done at a funeral before. He asked the parents to stand up and take a look at the crowd that sat behind them.

The pews were filled with hundreds of people. It was so full that people couldn’t get into the church to pay their respects and show their love for Patrick.

“That’s the greatest tragedy,” says Mary-Celine. “He didn’t realize how much he was loved.”

NOTE: This story has been revised to correct the length of time Patrick Convey spent in hospital following his drug overdose and where he was dropped off on the morning he died. A further correction was made June 22, 2012 to remove incorrect information.

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