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Suicide deaths decline in Alberta in 2023

The number of deaths by suicide in the province is on the decline, according to preliminary data obtained from Alberta Justice that shows a drop in deaths in 2023 from previous years.

Two hundred and forty-seven people took their own lives in Alberta last year – around 339 fewer deaths than 2022, which recorded 586 deaths by suicide.


Total Number of Suicides in Alberta  
2019 604
2020 622
2021* 601
2022* 586
2023* 247
*Preliminary data  
Courtesy: Alberta Justice  

Officials say the numbers are subject to change, as medical investigations on deaths over the past three years are being finalized.

But the preliminary numbers are the lowest seen in the past decade.

In addition, the number of youth – anyone 19 years old and under – who died from suicide in Calgary is also on the decline, from 10 deaths a year between 2020 and 2022 to one last year.

Mara Grunau, executive director for the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Calgary, approaches the numbers with cautious optimism because they are preliminary and don’t tell a full story.

“Research shows suicide is a lagging indicator. What we mean by that, if we think about it, people don’t resort to suicide immediately. Typically, they exhaust all their personal resources,” Grunau said.

“If we have, for instance, a big bad event – a big destructive weather event, (or) it could be an economic crash – we often will see an increase in suicides, but we won’t see them until 18 to 24 months later.”

Grunau says it is a possibility the drop in numbers is a holdover from the pandemic, where suicide rates dropped not just in Alberta, but in many places around the world.

She says it is also an indication mental-health interventions are working.

“It became more common to acknowledge we’re not doing OK,” Grunau said.

“It started to normalize that conversation and what we saw was an increase to crisis lines, an increase in people reaching out for mental-health supports, an increase in the conversations around mental health and mental well-being.”

The Centre for Suicide Prevention offers education and training to people and organizations to recognize signs and support someone in crisis, and according to Grunau, there has been more interest in workshops.

“We continue to see an increase in demand for workshops. It used to just be in the social services sector or the health sector where people wanted this education, but now, workplaces of all walks of life, shapes, forms and sizes come to us for training,” she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling, you’re encouraged to call the Suicide Crisis Helpline at 9-8-8.

To reach the Distress Centre, call or text 403-266-4357.

The Canada Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-833-456-4566.

The Kids Help Phone has services available 24-7 across Canada and can be reached by texting CONNECT to 686868 or by phoning 1-800-668-6868. 

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