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New study shows dramatic rise in Ontario teens visiting ER for self-harm


The number of Ontario teens visiting a hospital emergency department for self-harm more than doubled over nearly a decade, according to a new study that researchers say shows rising demand for mental health supports in the province.

The study, published this week in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, also found the rates of visits by teens aged 13 to 17 for mental health problems rose 78 per cent in that same period between 2009 and 2017.

Increases in both types of visits were even more pronounced among teenage girls, it says.

The study was conducted using data on emergency department visits from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. It notes that teens who intentionally hurt themselves through poisoning or injury are at risk for repeated self-harm or suicide.

The authors say more research is needed to shed light on the reasons for these increases, which could indicate that more teens are harming themselves, more are seeking help in emergency departments, or a combination of both.

“Something changed in 2009,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. William Gardner, a senior scientist at the CHEO Research Institute and professor of epidemiology at the University of Ottawa. 

Before then, rates of emergency department visits by teens for self-harm had been declining, falling by roughly a third over the six previous years, and visits for mental health issues had increased only slightly, he said.

Though the study did not examine the possible reasons for the shift, Gardner said the research team has identified factors that warrant further examination.

One possibility is that the recession of 2008 contributed to familial stress, but Gardner said they would then expect to see the visit rates decline again as the economy improved.

Another potential factor is the launch of the iPhone in 2007, and the ensuing rise in smartphone use, he said.

“Engagement with social media could lead to increased rates of self-harm, at least for vulnerable adolescents,” Gardner said.

“This could happen in several ways: by normalizing self-harm, by triggering it, by getting teens to emulate self-harming peers, or by exposing youths to cyber-bullying.”

However, he said, social media may also benefit some struggling teens by providing them with a way to “escape social isolation or find encouragement to seek treatment.”

It could also be that efforts to destigmatize mental illness in the period studied have encouraged teens and their families to seek help when they need it, Gardner said.

“We have to say that if kids who are in trouble are more likely to come to seek care, that’s good. It’s sad that there’s all those kids (who are struggling) but better to know about it than not,” he said.

However, emergency departments only provide crisis care and cannot offer the long-term support teens dealing with mental health problems need, Gardner said.

When the rate of teens going to the emergency department doubles, that means there is a great increase in demand for mental health care, and the number of providers has not grown in the same way, he said.

“It has a huge effect on waiting lists and on the case loads of providers,” he said. “We don’t have the resources to cope with the demand and it’s really important that people look at that.”

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

City of Red Deer

Massive fines coming for students caught vaping. City teaming up with local high schools to strictly enforce bylaw




From The City of Red Deer, Red Deer Public Schools, Ecole La Prairie, and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

Enforcement of smoking bylaw at Red Deer high schools to curb student vaping

The City of Red Deer, in partnership with Red Deer Public Schools, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and École La Prairie, is enforcing vaping at Red Deer high schools.

Local schools are seeing an increase in the number of students vaping – or the use of an electronic cigarette – on school property. Under The City’s Smoke-Free Bylaw, vaping is prohibited in public spaces and workplaces, and within 10 metres of playgrounds, seasonal skating rinks, skate parks, sports fields, water spray parks, or toboggan hills.

“Community peace officers will enforce the Smoke-Free Bylaw at high schools in Red Deer which prohibits all forms of smoking including the use of e-cigarettes,” said Scott Tod, Municipal Policing Services Manager. “People in public spaces including workplaces are entitled to a safe environment and vaping puts others at risk.”

“We are seeing students from all grade levels using vaping products. With all high schools in Red Deer partnering with The City of Red Deer, we hope it will continue to educate our students on the health implications of tobacco and vaping,” said Rose McQuay, Principal atÉcole Secondaire Notre Dame High School.

“Student vaping has reached epidemic proportions among Red Deer youth. Not only have ourschools seen a significant increase in students using vaping products, it now ranks as the number one reason for student suspensions,” added Darwin Roscoe, Principal at Hunting Hills High School.

“With the use of The City of Red Deer Smoke-Free Bylaw, it gives us another tool to help enforce the no vaping policy at our school. We are grateful that all high schools in Red Deer are taking the same approach,” said Jean Doyon, Director at École la Prairie.

As per the bylaw, city enforcement will issue tickets to anyone (including students) caught violating the bylaw.

Students caught vaping on school property by a bylaw officer or RCMP member will receive a ticket for violating The City’s Smoke Free Bylaw, with the following fines:

  •   $200 for the first offense
  •   $500 for the second offense
  •   Up to $2500 for the third offense

In addition to the fine, students at Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools will also receive suspensions from their schools.

Parents with questions are asked to contact their child’s high school administrator.

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Edmonton community members explore using the Emergency Room as an entry point to transitional housing




Is there a better way than simply releasing a person experiencing homelessness from the hospital back onto the street? It creates an endless cycle of emergency room visits and escalating costs, not to mention the challenges the patients face in having a successful recovery.

As we continue to look for solutions to homelessness in our city, a group of community members from different fields and backgrounds met recently to brainstorm and discuss alternatives to the practice of releasing patients into a state of homelessness.

That’s a long way of saying that if someone experiencing homelessness comes to an emergency room with a need for medical aid, the only alternative once treated is to release the patient back onto the street.  The chances of recovery are greatly diminished, while the probability of return visits increases.  The costs are severe, both to the person experiencing homelessness and to our ever-more expensive health care system.

Spearheading the initiative is Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, a veteran emergency room physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and a Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Watch this short video to hear from some of those involved and to better understand the concept and learn why there is a growing groundswell of support for this idea.


There are many ways that people can get involved with this initiative.  It’s common sense that housing and health are interconnected. Finding solutions to chronic homelessness and easing pressure on our health care system is something we can all get behind.

Please contact Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti directly to learn more about the project and how you can help:

Phone 780.932-7187


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september, 2019

tue06augAll Daysun29sepHot Mess - Erin Boake featured at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery(All Day)