Email sent to Senator Boisvenu by CCLA general counsel Nathalie Des Rosiers on February 3, 2012
Many efforts are being made to prevent suicide particularly for people who suffer from depression. Remarks from a public figure like you, Senator, that encourage people to commit suicide are particularly damaging to the various campaigns for suicide prevention. On behalf of the families who have lost one of theirs to suicide, I ask you to refrain from continuing to promote it, and even if your proposals arepopular with some victims. (Globe & Mail, February 3).
There are currently in federal and provincial Canadian prisons a large number of prisoners who suffer from depression and mental health problems. The Office of the Correctional Investigator notes that the suicide rate in federal prisons is already seven times higher than the national average. Most people are incarcerated for crimes related to drug trafficking: it is irresponsible to associate all inmates with the image of Cliff Olson or Mr. Shafia.
I invite you to inform yourself better with regards to practices for suicide prevention and to observe them. Your words are causing great harm to all those who work in the field of mental health and are trying to prevent people from resorting to suicide. Your duty should not be to encourage victims to promote suicide but to recognize the extent of mental health problems in prisons and the need to respond to these issues proactively to ensure better security.
Nathalie Des Rosiers
General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association