POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 83 Suicide and suicide prevention in the Canadian Armed Forces (continued) education training based on the A.C.E. (Ask, Care, Escort) model.At the leadership level, a one-day course called Mental Fitness and Suicide Awareness helps prepare supervisors to promote mental fitness and to mitigate the incidence of mental health injuries, including deliberate self-harm and suicide, within the military community. In addition to the supervisor’s course, a Mental Fitness and Suicide Awareness full-day course is available to all CAF members and their families, as are half-day mental fitness awareness sessions and briefings. This training takes place under the CAF’s larger health promotion umbrella, which includes Addictions Awareness & Prevention, Active Living & Injury Prevention, Nutrition Wellness, and Social Wellness programs. For more information, please visit the Strengthening the Forces web page at programs/strengthening-forces.html or contact the Canadian Armed Forces at 1-888-828-3626. Research and reporting Over the past 10 years, the CAF has put significant effort into conducting research and enhancing the care provided to members.The goal is to continue to enhance our research capability and conduct world leading research.The research, performed entirely within CFHS or with partners from academia or amongst our allies, will help us to better understand, identify, and treat mental health conditions. As part of the CAF leadership’s commitment to improve and enhance the care and support services currently available to members, the CAF will continue to monitor suicide rates and other trends that may lend insight into the overall mental health and general well-being of its population. Canadian Forces Expert Panel on Suicide Prevention The Canadian Forces Expert Panel on Suicide Prevention, held in Halifax in September 2009, found that the CAF has a strong suicide prevention program in place that compares most favourably to those of its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners and closest allies. The panel also found that the CAF has implemented, or is in the process of implementing, nearly all of the suicide prevention strategies most consistently identified in civilian scientific literature.These strategies include, but are not limited to, education/awareness programs, screening, pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, resilience training, and systematic efforts to overcome barriers to mental health care. In addition, the panel expressed agreement that the CAF’s approach also targets additional factors that are more specific to military organizations. Since the panel, the CAF has established the Medical Professional Technical Suicide Review process and implemented a patient follow-up protocol for missed mental health appointments to help prevent suicide, which are consistent with mental health best practices. The CAF has also become involved in initiatives that promote responsible media reporting of suicides. CAF mental health experts have shared guidelines on responsible reporting and have been made available to discuss the complexities of suicide. Read the Panel’s full report on Suicide Prevention online at corporate/reports-publications/health.html. The way forward Suicide is a tragedy and an important public health concern. Significant investment and commitment has been made to ensure the CAF has the health, education, and awareness programs required to help identify people at risk for mental health problems and to provide them with assistance. Caring for CAF members and their families will remain a priority.The CAF has provided leadership in the area of mental health and remains committed to working with its partners to ensure that our personnel, with their families, who are called to sacrifice so much in service to their country, receive quality care and support. The CAF continues to assess its capabilities and adjust its resources to ensure it is meeting the increasing complexities and demands associated with caring for our own. But we can’t do it alone.We each have a role to serve in identifying and assisting those affected by mental health concerns. Often, peers and family members are the first to notice behavioural changes, and when we do, we must not be afraid to act – do not underestimate the impact you can have.