World Suicide Prevention Day allows people to take a moment and think about those who are suffering from mental health issues but it’s also a day to start a dialogue about what the world can do better.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people die by suicide each year.

“Around the world, more people die every year by suicide than in homicide and war combined,” Mara Grunau, executive director for the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Calgary, told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

According to Grunau, there has been progress made in trying to end the stigma around mental health issues but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. One thing Grunau says is needed is a more welcoming and sensitive environment.

“You’ll often hear, ‘one-in-five Canadians at any given time is struggling with a mental health concern,’” said Grunau. “But what about the four-in-five?”

Grunau believes that it is up to those who are not struggling to provide this environment and to also educate themselves on marked changes in a person’s behaviour that can be a sign of mental health issues.

Behaviour changes are most often thought of as going from happy to melancholy, but Grunau says that the opposite can also be a marker and both changes should be watched.

If one of the changes is noticed, Grunau says the best thing to do is to be direct with questions and to listen without judgement.

“You can’t just come out with it from nowhere so it’s really important to build a trust relationship with those people around us,” said Grunau. “Give them the time they need to tell you.”

More resources needed

A 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Congress said that 55 per cent of U.S. counties do not have any practicing mental health workers.

Unfortunately, according to Dr. Sakina Rizvi of the St. Michael’s Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Suicide and Depression Studies Program, Canada is in a similar situation, especially when it comes to rural areas.

“Unfortunately if you look outside of Toronto, there could be 800 people to a psychiatrist,” Rizvi told CTV News Channel.

According to Rizvi, the lack of resources for the issue in part stems from not enough professionals in Canada who are qualified to deal with mental health issues.