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Suicide Prevention, Education,Counselling for Children & Youth

ACF15310 Options Community Services Society Surrey & Langley, BC

Created October 13, 2012 by Nancy Orlikow


Surrey & Langley, BC

Funding Level

$50k - $100k (< 2014)

Community Size

More than 1,000


SPEAC (Suicide Prevention Education and Counselling): is a program of Options Community Services' counselling programs, a non-profit multi-service agency based in Surrey, BC.  A program that is critical to raising awareness of the signs of suicide and preventing suicide for the communities of Langley and Surrey, BC.  Currently we have 2.2 full-time equivalent counsellors (Master's level clinical counsellors) who are available to serve as many as 100,000 school-aged children and youth in the catchment areas that we serve.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Canada, suicide accounts for 24 percent of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16 percent among 16-44 year olds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24. Seventy-three percent of hospital admissions for attempted suicide are for people between the ages of 15 and 44.

A high number (approximately 95%) of the children and youth that we serve in our program (provide direct counselling services) have cited being victims of bullying and with recent highly publicized suicides of youth where bullying was cited as a major contributing factor - we have a lot of work to do to help prevent more tragic and unnecessary deaths.

What We Do:  SPEAC currently provides both suicide prevention workshops as well as direct outreach counselling to children and youth who are suicidal and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.  We provide a quick response (within one day) to queries and referrals, provide risk assessments, outreach counselling, safety planning, and prevention workshops to schools and community groups. We also collaborate with many of our community partners - the school districts, child & youth mental health/MCFD, and Fraser Health to name a few.

The prevention workshops are a key piece in not only helping the youth/community to be more pro-active in identifying signs of suicide in their peers, but also in the self-identification of suicidality and giving youth permission to ask for help.  The team also educates other professionals: teachers; school counsellors; law enforcement; shelter workers; social workers; etc...This community-based approach is essential to the ongoing health of our communities.  The prevention workshops have been delivered since 1999 and have been a valuable and integral component of our service.

What We Need:
Our funding for the prevention workshops is being reduced significantly, which will result in reducing counsellors' hours when we are already under-resourced. 
We need more funding to fund at least another full-time position to be able to continue providing the workshops and keep pace with the increasing population/overall demand for service. 

Our communities are growing, with Surrey's population soon to surpass the City of Vancouver's* - our resources have not kept pace with the fast growth of the cities we serve.

We need to be able to balance our ability to provide the prevention workshops with our provision of counselling services.  The workshops help to educate our communities at large in how to deal with this complex and distressing issue; increasing capacity and resilience in our communities - and helping children and youth to reach out for help, and to go on to lead healthy lives.

*Population of Surrey has grown by 100,000 in 10 years:
Current Surrey population: 483,000 and still growing at rapid pace
Current Vancouver population: 603,502

Thank you for your support!!