Thursday, June 16, 2016

Galt Museum's Post on the Project

The Galt Museum and Archives has a great post on the Alberta Suicide Prevention History Project based upon materials Just Group donated to the Archives. Their post states "  an excellent blog with every detail of the Alberta’s Suicide Prevention History Project".

Click here to view:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why We Did the Suicide Prevention History Project!

We have been asked why we did this suicide prevention history project. Some of the reasons are listed below.

1) Validating the past: We want to recognize, validate and honour the work of past suicide prevention service providers, professionals and volunteers. Suicide prevention is difficult and exhausting work at every level. We hope this type of recognition and validation will strengthen and empower current service providers, professionals and volunteers through a sense of the strong history and tradition they belong to in an international community of people dedicated to suicide prevention. We encourage others in this international community to preserve, record and share their stories and histories.

2) Documenting the historical record: Suicide prevention in Alberta and Canada has a rich history and strong influence and impact on national and international suicide prevention action. Dr. Paul S. Links, president of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has described Alberta as, “...a beacon for initiatives in suicide prevention and has impacted the development of suicide prevention strategies nation-wide and world wide.” However, there is no documented history of Alberta suicide prevention actions. We want to preserve and document this historical record.

3) Identifying and learning from themes: The history of suicide prevention in Alberta may have recurring themes. At times a community needs to take stock of the past and draw lessons from its collective wisdom. Past achievements may be built upon and ineffective practices should not be repeated.

4) Communication and awareness: There is a need to educate the suicide prevention community about past and current suicide prevention programs services.

5) Suicide prevention: As a community we must make every effort to continue this focus. We hope the information will contribute to this vision and purpose.  As caring communities we must continue to try to prevent suicide.

Friday, September 10, 2010

World Suicide Prevention Day Activity Completed!

Today's World Suicide Prevention Day acitivity completed  by the Just Group was to donate the artifacts from the Suicide Prevention Histroy Project to the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge ,Alberta, Canada.

At 2:00 p.m., Trevor Esau from Just Group met with Galt Museum Archivist, Greg Ellis to turn over the ownership of the artifacts to the Museum. Just Group would like to thank Greg Ellis and the Galt Museum for their partnership in this project!

Many of the artifacts a featured on the web site:

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Just Community Development Group Ltd. (Just Group) in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada has timed the completion of the Suicide Prevention History Project to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day 2010. In the 1970's and 1980's Alberta, Canada was home to many innovative suicide prevention programs and services that received international recognition.  Just Group has researched this history and recorded the results at:  Please visit this site to view the pictures, artifacts and written documents.

In particular, the first suicide prevention/awareness week in Canada was held in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1981.
This history is available in a blog post below.

The main activity for World Suicide Prevention Day 2010 is to present the project artifacts to the Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge, Alberta.  The Galt Museum was a partner in the Suicide Prevention History Project.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Just In Time: The Distress and Suicide Prevention Line of Southwestern Alberta 2003 - Present

Just In Time Alberta Suicide Prevention Week and Public Education 1981-1987

Alberta's first Suicide Prevention Week and Public Education program 1981 -1987.
To view the document click on the title below:

Suicide Prevention Week and Public Education 1981 - 1987

Just In Time: The Story of the Samaritans in Lethbridge: 1982-2003

To view this document click on the title below:

The Samaritans of Lethbridge: 1982 - 2003

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just Group Supports Lethbridge Family Services 100 Anniversary

Just Group is supporting the Lethbridge Family Services 100 Anniversary by offering the use of the Just In Time publication:

Lethbridge Family Services: The Development of the Suicide Prevention Program, 1982 - 1987

This document may be viewed in the feb. 22 post below.

This document highlights a very significant part in their history.

Peter Portlock, Executive Director wrote to us saying... thanks for this excellent information ... It will be useful to us in our ongoing relationship with Lethbridge media as the year unfolds.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just Group works with the International Association of Suicide Prevention Archives

Congratulations to the The International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) who are celebrating their 50th Anniversary.

Given the importance of this historical year for IASP and Just Group's interest in suicide prevention history, we thought it would be appropriate to send one of the documents we have been working on to the IASP.

The IASP awarded Dr. Stengel Research Award to Dr. Menno Boldt in 1979. The IASP maintains a complete list of the Stengel Award winners. In the course of our research we noticed there was an error in the recorded date and the name of the 1979 Stengel Award.

We communicated with the IASP Presidnet, Dr.Lanny Berman, sending him the Just in Time publication: The “Boldt Report”: Alberta’s First Suicide Prevention Strategy, 1976., and a copy of the newspaper article indicating that Dr. Boldt received the award at the 10th IASP Congress in Ottawa, Canada, on Monday, June 18th, 1979. Dr. Boldt shared the award with Dr. R.F.W. Diekstra of the Netherlands.

Also, we notified the IASP that we rescued a number of vidoes. These video's date to 1975/76 and feature presentations by: Norman Farberow, Margaret Kilpatrick, S. M. Helig.We think they were from a conference held in Lethbridge Alberta. They have not been digitized and are on an old format. We asked the IASP if they were interested in the videos or if they knew of anyone who would be.

Dr. Berman responded promptly and forwarded the information to the IASP Archivist who will be communicating with Just Group on these topics.

Dr. Boldt and the Boldt Report: Alberta's First Suicide Prevention Strategy

We have posted another Just in Time publication identifying the contributions of Dr. Menno Boldt:
Click on the title to view the document.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Final Report: Acknowledgements, Executive Summary, Chronological Timeline, Table of Contents

To view: The Final Report: Acknowledgements, Executive Summary, Chronological Timeline, Table of Contents, click on the link below:






Just in Time: Lethbridge family Services: The Development of the Suicide Prevention Program, 1982, 1987

This is a link to the first of the Just In Time documents created as part of the project.

Just In Time
Click on the title to view the document.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Alberta Views Jan/Feb, 2010 issue focuses on suicide and issues related to suicide. They have published an aggragate of this blog that deals with Just Group's historical research into the 1980s “Alberta Model” and the work of Dr. Boldt. The information appears in their Eye on Alberta section.

Alberta Views Perspectives on a Province is a monthly general-interest magazine covering the arts, culture, environment and politics of Alberta. They have received several Western Magazine Awards over the years, and this past summer they were named Magazine of the Year at the Nationals in Toronto.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Samaritan Trainers Guide For Trainers from the Archives

The archives contain this trainers guide created by the Lethbridge Samaritans.

Samaritan Cook Book from the Archives

The Samaritans created a Cook Book featuring a sketch of the Samaritan House and a dedication that read, To a dedicated Samaritan Jean 10. Click on pictures for enlargements.

Dr. Collins Certificates from the Archives

Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation Office Pictures from the Archives

Pictures of the Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation Office in downtown Lethbridge in 1983. The office space was provide by the Samaritans which had rented the top floor of the building.

Samaritan Pamphlet from the Archives

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dr. Jean Collins sent us this picture of herself (left) and Sister Anne MacLellan. This picture was taken this year when they got together to discuss their time in Lethbridge and to "Tell Us Their Stories" which are posted on previous blogs. It had been 32 years since Dr. Collins arrived in Lethbridge and 27 years since Samaritans started in Lethbridge.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The "Boldt Report" from the Archives


The Report of the Task Force on Suicides, May 1976

We have had requests for copies of the "Boldt Report". To get a copy:

1) The Government of Alberta Department of Alberta Health and Wellness owns the copywrite to the report. To get a copy, contact this department and ask for "Report of the Task Force on Suicides", Chaired by Dr. Menno Boldt, as presented to the Minister of Social Services and Community Health, may 1976.

2) The Canadian Mental Health Association's, Suicide Information and Education Centre' library
(SIEC) in Calgary has " the world's largest English language collection of materials on suicide and suicidal behaviours with more than 37,000 references to print and audiovisual resources on prevention, intervention, and postvention." They have copies of the "Boldt Report" and many related articles.

3) The University libraries in Alberta have copies.
4) The Galt Museum and Archives in Lethbridge will soon have an original copy.
Just Group is working on finding an electronic form of the "Boldt Report".

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Just Group presented the project report to Deb Chenery, Executive Director, CMHA/South Region. The following posts contain the Acknowledgements, Executive Summary, Introduction, and Timeline of Events. The Tell Us Your Story contributions are contained in previous blogs. These are edited versions, the original will be in the Just Group archive donation to the Galt Museum and Archives.

The report also contained drafts of the following publications:


The “Boldt Report”: Alberta’s First Suicide Prevention Strategy, 1976

Suicide Prevention Week and Public Education, 1981 –1987

Lethbridge Family Services: The Development of the
Suicide Prevention Program, 1982 –1987

The Samaritans, 1982 – 2003

The Development of the Canadian Suicide Prevention
Foundation, 1983 – 1995

The Distress and Suicide Prevention Line of
Southwestern Alberta, 2003

A Call To Action: The Alberta Suicide Prevention Strategy, 2006


The Distress Line and The Samaritans

A Call to Action and the “Boldt Report”

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tell Us Your Story

People involved in the development have contributed their stories. Click on the person below to read their contribution:

Lorita Ichikawa

Dr. Jean Collins

John Thompson

Sister Anne MacLellan

Hilde Schlosar

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dr. Boldt's Personal Story

Dr. Boldt wrote his personal story and perspective on his role in the development of the 'Alberta Model' of suicide prevention for the historical vignettes section of the book , Suicide in Canada (1998), Edited by Leenaars, Antoon A. and published by the University of Toronto Press.

Dr. Boldt's vignette describes the incident that led to his involvement in suicide prevention in 1973. He was conducting research on the Blood First Nation with a student, Leroy Little Bear, to develop a proposal for the development of a Native American Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge. Dr. Boldt describes driving past the reserve cemetery and noticing 6 new graves. He was concerned by a small community having 6 deaths in a few days and made inquiries. He found out that 3 of these deaths were suicides. His concern led him to write a letter to Alberta's minister of social services and community health urging the department to
conduct an inquiry into the incidence of suicide in native communities. In his vignette, Dr. Bold wrote:

"Wondrously, this letter started a series of events that culminated, ultimately, in the 'Alberta Model' of suicide prevention. Some six weeks later I received a telephone call from the deputy minister of social services and community health informing me that the Government of Alberta was creating a special task force to study suicides in Alberta. Subsequently, the minister appointed me to chair this task force." page15.

Dr. Boldt's vignette goes on to describe the 4 year lobby effort that was needed to keep the task force report (Boldt Report) from being shelved and the recommendations implemented.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Samaritans First Anniversary Awards

The Samaritans marked their first anniversary by presenting certificates of appreciation to four people and a plaque to the Lethbridge Miners Library Club. In this Lethbridge Herald phot from November 3, 1983, Jim Brown, Miner's Library Club President (pictured with the plaque) , displays the "The Samaritan Friend of 1983" award. The Club had demonstrated outstanding support and donated $7,500. Also pictured, from left to right are certificate of appreciation recipients: Elisha Rasmussen, CFCN television personality; Ron Watmough, Lethbridge Herald Lifestyle Editor; Al Kaminski, President of the Lakeview Lions Club; Dr. Menno Boldt.
Photo Courtesy Galt Museum & Archives

Dr. Jean Collins Donates Artifacts

Dr. Jean Collins has donated her artifact collection from her time as Suicide Prevention Coordinator in Lethbridge. Dr. Collin's artifacts will be included in the Just Group donation to the Galt Museum and Archives at the completion of the Suicide Prevention History project.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dr. Boldt Published Two Follow-up Journal Articles to the "Boldt Report"

Dr. Boldt published two journal articles following up on the recommendations and implementation of the "Boldt Report".

1982 – Dr. Menno Boldt published, A Model for Suicide Prevention, Intervention and
Postvention: The Alberta Task Force Proposals,
in Canada’s Mental Health,
March 1982. This paper was a summary of the key recommendations of the
“Boldt Report”.

1985- Dr. Menno Boldt published, Toward the Development of a Systematic Approach to
Suicide Prevention: The Alberta Model
, in Canada’s Mental Health, 1985, 3 (2), 2-4. This paper outlines the “Alberta Model” that was adopted to provide suicide prevention, intervention and postvention services in Alberta.

Hilde Schlosar Published Two Articles About the Samaritans

Hilde Schlosar wrote 2 journal articles about aspects of the Samaritans during her time as Executive Director:

1995- Hilde Schlosar and Barry Hill co-author, Repeat Callers and the Telephone Crisis
Line—A Canadian Experience
, in Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and
Suicide Prevention, 1995 16, (2). This paper examines the
characteristics of repeat callers, and makes suggestions about the management of
the chronic caller.

1997- Hilde Schlosar (in collaboration with L. Wayne Carlson) published, Befriending in
in Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 1997,
18, (4).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Past Samaritan Executive Director, Hilde Schlosar Contributes to the Project

Hilde Schlosar was the longest serving Executive Director of the Samaritans in Lethbridge from 1991until it's closure in 2003. She was also the first full-time paid Executive Director (1991). Under her management of the Samaritans: expanded and grew to include the 3 health regions; took over the Sexual Assault Line; began the Drumheller Prison and Bowden Prison programs; and expanded to include Prince Albert and Stony Mountain all while operating their 24/7 suicide crisis line utilizing volunteers. Hilde also published 2 papers relating to the Samaritans, the details will be posted later.

Hilde is supporting Just Group research by providing key historical information and telling us her story. Hilde's role and work were invaluable in the success of the Samaritans over their 21 year existence. She worked hard to find ways to keep the Samaritans viable and the longevity of the Samaritans is directly related to her efforts. Hilde demonstrated a remarkable commitment and passion for the cause and for the Samaritans.

Hilde's contributions and story will be posted on this site later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Why the "Alberta Model" was Successful

The Minister's Advisory Committee on Suicide Prevention 1987/88 Annual Report noted the success of the "Alberta Model" and stated:

The successes of Alberta’s suicide prevention program comes from several operating principles:
1. The program is community-based.
2. It incorporates prevention, intervention and follow-up: service, coordination, education and
3. Those responsible include a balance of local and provincial people, professionals,
volunteers, government employees and community representatives.
4. Those involved have the authority to do what makes sense at their level.

Dr. Boldt, the "Boldt Report" and the "Alberta Model" Received Widespread Recognition

The “Boldt Report” provincial strategy for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, utilized a community based model which integrated medical, psychological and sociological perspectives. This strategy would become known as the “Alberta Model”. By 1988, the "Alberta Model" and Dr. Boldt had received widespread acclaim. A Call To Action: The Alberta Suicide Prevention Strategy APPENDIX noted in the major milestones of suicide prevention in Alberta:

In the 1980's important prevention work began on a provincial basis and community-based programs were initiated. Alberta was becoming a world leader in suicide prevention.

The Minister's Advisory Committee on Suicide Prevention 1987/88 Annual Report noted:

Alberta’s suicide and prevention program is highly regarded:

The 1987 federal paper, Suicide in Canada, highlights the Alberta Model of suicide prevention.

Dr. Boldt, founder of Alberta’s suicide prevention program, has received the Alberta Haltan Award and the International Association of Suicide Prevention Stengel Award.

Alberta’s expertise has been recognized at national and international conferences.

The Suicide Prevention Training Program and Suicide Information Education Centre, are used throughout Canada and North America.

The 1979 Ervin Stengel Award to Dr. Boldt was for “Outstanding contribution in the field of suicide prevention” and demonstrated provincial, national and international recognition.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dr. Jean Collins Tells Us Her Story

Dr. Jean Collins was the one of the first Suicide Prevention Coordinators in the province, starting in 1982, through Lethbridge Family Services. Dr. Collins has sent Just Group her story, including how she started the first Samaritan branch in Canada. She concludes her recollections with this statement:

"Those years working with the Samaritan volunteers were the most exciting and rewarding of my professional life. I loved those volunteers! They were a truly remarkable group of generous and caring people who gave of their time and expertise to help others who were in distress. I’m proud to have known them."

As noted in previous posts, Dr. collins was very involved in the early development of suicide prevention programs and services in Lethbridge and area. The Minister's Advisory Committee on Suicide Prevention 1982 Annual Report noted that through Dr. Jean Collins' enthusiastic work over the 6 month period, the foundation for an integrated program of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention services had been established. The Lethbridge program was seen as a prototype for all the other community networks in the province.

Dr. Collins recollections about those early days will be posted on this site and included in the anthology. Jean is pictured below receiving a donation for Samaritan House furnishings from the Gyro Club of Lethbridge. The photo appeared in the Lethbridge Herald, March 14, 1985.

Photo courtesy Galt Museum and Archives

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sister Anne MacLellan, One of the First Samaritan Volunteers, Tells Us Her Story

Sister Anne MacLellan (pictured in the June 16 post), a Sister of St. Martha, was one of the first volunteers for the Samaritans in Lethbridge in 1982. She was trained and on the phones in the first weeks after the Samaritans began. She has provided us with her first hand account of her four years as a volunteer with the Samaritans.

Sister Anne writes about her introduction to the Samaritans, her training, first shift as a volunteer, experiences as a volunteer, meeting Chad Varah the founder of the Samaritans from England, and other refelctions.

Regarding the Suicide Prevention History Project, she wrote to Trevor that, " It is nice to have it affirmed that one did actually make a contribution toward making this a better place".

Sister Anne's recollections and reflections will be posted on this blog and included in the project's anthology of "Tell Us Your Story" documents written from the first hand accounts of people involved in the history of suicide prevention.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Suicide Prevention Week Goes Province-Wide in 1989

Following the Lethbridge lead, other programs in the province started practicing Suicide Prevention Week. The Minister's Advisory Committee on Suicide Prevention 1988/89 Annual Report indicates that by 1989 the other programs had already been practicing the week for several years.

First Provincial Suicide Prevention Week

The Minister's Advisory Committee 1988/89 Annual Report indicated the first province-wide Suicide Awareness Week was held in 1989. The name had changed back to the original in 1981—Suicide Awareness Week.

Honorary Spokesman– Jeff Beukeboom

The Minister's Advisory Committee on Suicide Prevention 1988/89 Annual Report stated that the honorary spokesman for Suicide Awareness Week was Jeff Beukeboom, a hockey player with the Edmonton Oilers. His brother had committed suicide in 1987. Jeff’s popularity and personality helped promote Suicide Awareness Week’s positive message to many smaller communities.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lethbridge Was Home To The First Suicide Prevention Week and Mayor's Proclamation.

The November 30, 1983 edition of the Lethbridge Herald shows this picture of Lethbridge Mayor Anderson signing a proclamation asking all citizens to do their part in learning about suicide prevention during Suicide Prevention Week - December 1-7, 1983. Pictured with the Mayor are (left to right): Tara Lavelle, The Samaritans; Lorita Ichikawa, Lethbridge Family Services; Trevor Esau, Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation; Val Boehme, Canadian Mental Health Association.
While Lethbridge became home to the first Suicide Prevention Week and Mayor's Proclamation. in 1983, Just Group research has shown that this event had evolved from Suicide Awareness Week which was actually started by CMHA in Lethbridge in 1981. An original pamphlet from the 1987 Suicide Prevention Week, held March 8 -14, claimed it started in 1982 stating:
"Suicide Prevention Week was initiated in Southern Alberta in 1982, the Canadian Mental Health Association. CMHA has been joined by Lethbridge Family Services and The Samaritans in the co-sponsorship and co-ordination of the Annual Awareness Week. This was a significant event because it brought the social problem of suicide into the public arena."
However, the pamphlet below recovered from the first Suicide Awareness Week shows it was started by CMHA in 1981.

Click on pamphlet to enlarge

Friday, June 20, 2008

Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation Artifacts Recovered

Click to enlarge.
Just Group artifacts donated by Trevor Esau from his time as Executive Coordinator of the CSPF from 1983 - 1987, contain a number of original material and documents from the development of the CSPF and from the fund-raising and educational campaign in 1983. As examples we are posting the pamphlet campaign and the return envelope containing a message from Bob Tarleck, the honorary campaign chairman. A summary of this artifact collection will be posted when completed.

Click to enlarge and read Bob Tarleck's

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dr. Jean Collins and Sr. Anne MacLellan Meet to Discuss and Record the Samaritans Early Years

This picture of Dr. Jean Collins and Sr. Anne MacLellan (left to right) now of Antigonish,NS was taken as they met on Sunday, June 15/08 to discuss and record some of their memories about the early years of the Samaritans. Dr. Collins worked as a Suicide Prevention Coordiantor with the Centre for Personal and Community Development (Lethbridge Family Services) and was the main person responsible for bringing the first Samaritans branch to Canada in Lethbridge. Sr. Anne was one of the first volunteers of the Samaritans in Lethbridge.
Their reports will follow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation Founding Board Members

Photo courtesy Galt Museum & Archives
Click on photo to enlarge

This Lethbridge Herald photo, now in the Galt Museum Archives, shows the Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation founding board members holding a press conference in advance of the 1983 door-to-door fund-raising and awareness campaign. From left to right:Dr. Jean Collins, founder of the Samaritans;Dr. Menno Boldt, President; Dr. Robert Arms, University of lethbridge Psychologist; Tom Wickersham, City of Lethbridge Firefighter and future Fire Chief and Alderman; Mary Oordt,VicePresident, CMHA Board member; BobTarleck, teacher, Alderman and future Mayor of Lethbridge.

We have recovered an original poster (pictured below) to the one seen hanging on the front of the table in the picture above:

Click on poster to enlarge

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First Samaritans Branch in Canada Located in Downtown Lethbridge

The first Samaritans branch in Canada had two locations in Lethbridge during their 21 years of operation. From their incorporation under the Societies Act on January 25, 1983 until the purchase of the Samaritans House in 1985, they were located on the second floor at 505-7 Street South, in downtown Lethbridge. The picture on the left is a recovered artifact from 1983 and shows their location. It was taken shortly after the Samaritans started operation.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Suicide Prevention Awareness Artifacts Recovered

Click on the posters for an enlargement.
Just Group has obtained original posters which document awareness and educational activities that preceded the CSPF's door-to-door fund-raising campaign in 1983.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Just Group Makes Presentation at the Lethbridge Community Foundation's Grant Awards Ceremony

On May 14, 2008, on behalf of CMHA/South Region and Just Group's, Trevor Esau (pictured) made a short presentation about the project at the Lethbridge Community Foundation press conference and grant award ceremony.

A complete list of the Lethbridge Community Foundation Spring 2008 Grant Recipients is available.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Alberta Health and Wellness Grants Just Group Permission and Licensing for The Report of the Task Force on Suicides

On May 1, 2008, on behalf of Alberta Health and Wellness, Margaret King, Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Health, sent Just Group a letter of agreement granting Just Group permission and licensing approval for the "Report of the Task Force on Suicides" for one year in relation to the Alberta Suicide Prevention History Pilot Project.

Just Group had identified that given the major importance of the report to the history of suicide prevention, it may be beneficial to the project to receive permission to duplicate the "Boldt Report" in whole or in part. The process to obtain permission was started in October 2007.

Galt Museum Archives Joins Project Partnership

The Galt Museum Archives has joined the Just Group project partnership. Greg Ellis, archivist at the Galt Museum , has offered support and agreed to sit on the advisory council.

One of the outcomes of the project is the gathering of artifacts from the selected historical actions. Artifacts collected during the pilot project will be catalogued, archived and donated to the Galt Museum Archives.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lethbridge Family Services Joins Project Partnership

Lethbridge Family Services has joined the project partnership. LFS was a major influence in the early development of suicide prevention in Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta. They currently offer suicide prevention programs and services. Trevor Esau met with LFS staff (pictured left to right) Dave Adams, Executive Director; Colleen Bakker; and John Thompson. LFS was invited to join the partnership. John Thompson was a Samaritan for many years and will complete a "Tell Us Your Story". LFS will also contribute archives.

Lorita Ichikawa Joins Project Advisory Council

Lorita Ichikawa has joined the project in an advisory capacity on Just Group's advisory council. She will also complete a "Tell Us Your Story" by providing her first hand account of the development of suicide prevention activities.

Lorita was involved in the development of many of the early suicide prevention programs and services. She was Executive Director of Lethbridge Family Services (LFS) when they were tasked with starting the Samaritans.

Lorita was the Executive Director of LFS (formerly the Centre for Personal and Community Development) for 12 years, ending with her resignation in 1990.
In the Lethbridge Herald, August 23, 1990, Jeanne Beaty, then President of LFS, said, "She has been very much a creative force in the organization and in the community. We'll miss her vision and concept of services needed and how best they can be offered. She certainly leaves the agency in very good shape".

Lorita is pictured with Trevor Esau, Senior Partner with Just Group.

The Lethbridge Community Foundation Field of Interest Fund for Suicide Prevention

Tom Wickersham indicated that when the Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation dissolved, it donated their remaining assets to the Lethbridge Community Foundation to establish a Field of Interest Fund designated for suicide prevention projects. Grant applicants could apply for these funds. George Hall, Executive Director of the Lethbridge Community Foundation confirmed that the Field of Interest Fund still existed.
On February 1, 2008, the Canadian Mental Health Association/South Region, in partnership with the Just Group, applied for a grant from the Field of Interest Fund to complete The Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta Suicide Prevention History Project (Phase 1 Pilot).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

CMHA/South Region Joins Project Partnership

Canadian Mental Health Association/South Region now operates the Distress and Suicide Prevention Line of Southwestern Alberta which has replaced the Samaritans.

Trevor Esau met with Executive Director, Deborah Chenery, to discuss Just Group's efforts to document the history of suicide prevention in Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta. Deborah indicated that CMHA is very interested in supporting the project and would join the partnership.

Distress and Suicide Prevention Line of Southwestern Alberta
24 hour phone support 403-327-7905.

Just Group Rescues CMHA/South Region Artifacts

Canadian Mental Health Association/South Region (CMHA/South Region) has a long history of suicide prevention programs. During a restructuring of their resource centre, a number of videos were literally rescued from the BFI bin.

The rescued videos were shot on reel-to-reel half-inch video. We are currently looking for a way to view and digitize them. Of special interest is the one pictured: Tape 2 of Dr. Menno Boldt discussing The Alberta Picture, 1975 (referring to suicide prevention). Other videos are from that time period and feature influential suicidologists.

Alderman Tom Wickersham Donates Artifacts

As was noted in an earlier blog, Tom Wickersham was a founding board member and Treasurer of the Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation in 1983. Tom is now an Alderman with the City of Lethbridge.

Tom provided artifacts and advice on how to proceed with the project. First, he still had the financial records and other documents of the CSPF. He donated them to the project. Once documented, they will be included in our archival donation to the Galt Museum Archives. Second, he recalled that when the CSPF dissolved, it donated surplus funds to the Lethbridge Community Foundation (LCF) for the establishment of an suicide prevention endowment fund. Tom recommended we contact LCF to see if this fund may be accessed for this type of research.

The picture was taken during a second meeting in which Tom found and donated a second package of artifacts to the project. He is pictured holding the original CSPF ledger.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Just Group's Initial Research Focus

Just Group initiated the Suicide Prevention History Project by focusing on the following selected actions :

Dr. Menno Boldt, a University of Lethbridge sociologist, was Chairman of the Provincial Task Force on Suicides. In May of 1976 the task force completed their report, known as the "Boldt Report". This report laid the foundation for suicide prevention programs and services that would later have provincial, national and international significance.

The Samaritans of southern Alberta was the first Samaritans branch in Canada,. They received 100,000 calls and provided 180,000 hours of service offered by 700 volunteers over 21 years of operation in Lethbridge. It began operation in 1982.

The Canadian Suicide Prevention Foundation (CSPF) was founded in Lethbridge and was the first association to conduct a door-to-door fundraising and educational campaign. About 150 volunteers raised $13,700 dollars and delivered educational packages to 11,871 households in Lethbridge and southern Alberta representing a potential of 34,000 people.
It was founded it 1983.

The Lethbridge and area Suicide Awareness Week, starting in 1981, was a community collaboration project in Lethbridge and southern Alberta that brought the social problem of suicide and suicide prevention services to the public arena.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Just Group Rescues Samaritans Artifacts

Just Group's first attempt to search and rescue artifacts came when the Samaritans' house was sold as part of their dissolution. With permission of the past Samaritans' president we were allowed to search through the house. We found several pamphlets and in the garage we found the oil tin cans that the Samaritans volunteers used as mail boxes. We were able to take pictures (posted below) of the cans before they were removed.

Later we were able to recover several boxes of documents from the lawyer handling the dissolution. These boxes contained the original Societies Act papers, incorproration certificate, and original minutes of many board meetings. A documentation of the artifacts will be posted later.

Project Background and Disclaimer

Several years ago, the Samaritans closed after 21 years of suicide prevention service in Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta. This news was a reminder of the
rich heritage of suicide prevention in Alberta and especially Lethbridge.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, following the work of Dr. Menno Boldt and what came to be known as the "Boldt Report", Lethbridge became a leader in the research and implementation of comprehensive and innovative suicide prevention programs and services in Alberta. These actions would go on to have national and international significance and still influence suicide prevention strategies today.

However, given the signifance and influence of this Alberta heritage, there is no existing comprehensive documentation of historical actions that have been a part of suicide prevention in Alberta. The history is in danger of being lost.

Just Community Development Group Ltd. (Just Group), a social enterprise, started an informal process to research, recover and preserve Alberta’s history in suicide prevention. Just Group will use a community development partnership process as the project evolves.

The research will identify specific actions that were major influences in suicide prevention in Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta. These actions, represented by the people, committees, reports, ideas, concepts, programs and services, make up the rich heritage and researched, recognized, documented, preserved, archived and communicated.

Blog Disclaimer
This blog is an informal running account of the research conducted. It is also an ongoing record of the process and partnerships in the project. Therefore, the content of this blog is always in transition. The information may not be valid or accurate as research results in new information. The blog is intended to be a mechanism for awareness, instant archiving, and communication about the research on the people, events, artifacts, and practices that make up the rich heritage of suicide prevention as it is recovered and preserved in Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta. This blog is not intended to do harm or to malign any religious group, ethnic group, club, organization, agency, company or individual. This blog may also contain personal opinions that Just Group may not endorse.
All pictures are the property of Just Group unless otherwise noted. Just Group, can be contacted at