Guest Commentary

Ron Liepert, MP

Kids & Parents

Editor’s note: Conservative MP Ron Liepert (Calgary Signal Hill) on February 4, 2019 in the Commons recounted the suicide of his daughter. His remarks came in debate on Motion 174 proposing a national suicide prevention action plan. Following is a transcription of Mr. Liepert’s comments.

My remarks today are mine and mine only, and were not prepared by anyone else. Three days from today, Thursday of this week, will mark one year since I received a phone call at midnight from my wife, saying that our 45-year-old daughter had taken her life. It is a call that no parent should ever have to receive…

Suicide is not an easy issue to talk about, but hopefully, if at least one person hears our words today and decides not to act, it will be time well spent…In the past year I have had countless people either write to me or tell me personally about the loss of a family member or friend by suicide.

It is easy to say that suicide is a mental health issue and if we just spend a little more money, that would be the answer, but I happen to believe differently. There is no question that factors such as depression or mental instability can be directly related to suicide.

However, in recent years, several prominent business leaders in Alberta chose to end their lives; suicide can be caused by financial stress or a dependency that was more serious than it appeared. I do not consider that those to be mental illness. I know others will disagree, and that is why it is important to have this discussion and develop an action plan, as suggested in this motion.

If spending more money to deal with mental illness is not the solution, then what is? I have thought a lot about it and I think that education is where we need to start. Learning about suicide should maybe start in grade school, and not be about why suicide is wrong but for students to hear real-life examples of the hurt and pain that is left behind when someone chooses to end their life.

I say that because suicide is not an easy subject to talk about, but it does help to get rid of some of the anger. I think if a young person is made aware of that hurt and pain, it may change future decisions. If young people realized that nothing they ever did in their lives made a parent more angry, they might not make that decision.

When I think of my daughter, I think of someone who never wanted to hurt anyone or anything. In fact, she would become very angry when hearing on the news of a person or animal being abused or mistreated, so we have to ask ourselves why she would hurt everyone around her by taking her own life. Obviously, that never occurred to her…

Early in life we teach our children a lot about sharing and not being selfish. Committing suicide may be the most selfish thing one can do. I would say that our daughter was somewhat selfish. However, I doubt that it ever occurred to her that committing suicide was a selfish act, so I think we need to instill in our young people that suicide is a selfish, hurtful act. It is hard to do that…

Many in this chamber are fortunate not to have a personal experience with suicide. Standing here one year ago today, that was me. Today, one year less three days later, I look at this issue through an entirely different lens.

Supporting this motion and participating in the debate today is easy for me. Hopefully my remarks, and those of others who speak, will ensure this motion moves forward so we can begin the work of developing a national action plan to combat this epidemic.

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