Alavida Warns of Suicide Rates on the Rise in Canada*

How Mental Health, Alcohol Abuse, and Lack of Access to Care Fuel the Fire

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With the recent suicides of celebrities like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the national conversation around suicide, alcohol abuse, and mental health is more prevalent than ever.  High-profile cases such as these highlight just how prevalent this issue is — an astonishing 14.7% of Canadians have thought about suicide and 3.5% have attempted suicide in their lifetime.

It also shows that mental health problems do not discriminate, no matter how successful or financially secure someone is.  In fact, 4 million Canadians are living with either a mood or anxiety disorder.  With only half of Canadians who experience a major depressive episode receiving adequate care, urgent action is necessary to address this crisis.

Alcohol and Depression

A history of mental illness or addiction is the single most important risk factor for suicide: More than 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental illness or addictive disorder according to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Additionally, depression is the most common mental illness among those who die from suicide, with approximately 60% suffering from the condition.

Alcohol dependence often results in clinical depression, and the rate of suicide among people who are dependent on alcohol is six times that of the general population.

Men are two times more likely to binge drink than women. As well, men are both more likely to experience alcohol dependence and are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, but at the same time suicide rates amongst women are increasing faster than men.  In Canada, suicide rates have gone up 15% amongst women between 2011 and 2015 and 12% amongst men during that same period.

“Depression falls along a spectrum of severity and is marked by many risk factors and symptoms.  It’s not something you feel for a day.  It’s a low mood on a daily basis for an extended period of time and gives rise to physical, mental, and social issues if not addressed properly,” explains Lindsay Killam, Clinical Program Director at Alavida.  

“Alcohol use is a risk factor for depression.  When individuals over consume alcohol for a length of time their brain chemistry changes.  Over time, alcohol use becomes more automatic and can feel out of control.  The changes in the brain can be a risk for depression especially for those who are genetically predisposed.  The lack of control can also lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.” 

But according to Killam there is hope for problem drinkers. “Evidence-based practice indicates that there is a combination of strategies that we can employ to help break the cycle of problem drinking and depression.  Medication can be used to address the reward system in the brain that reinforces alcohol consumption.  When combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, individuals can learn better coping skills that improve overall health and wellbeing.  Working with a collaborative care team, individuals experiencing co-occurring disorders can get comprehensive medical and therapeutic treatment that offers best results for mental health.”

And Canadian companies are also beginning to see the value of offering online mental-health care to their employees.  A 2015 study found that problem drinking accounted for $7.1 billion in lost productivity - a clear sign that online alcohol counselling not only allows people to get treatment discreetly but is also good for business.

About Alavida

Alavida is the leading online healthcare solution for problem drinking. At Alavida, we combine medication and therapy with the latest technology to personalize treatment and allow clients to privately access their care team from anywhere. Clients set their own goals, and see life-changing results: 87.5% reported feeling more in control of their drinking and 82.5% significantly improved their ability to stop drinking. Available in North America since 2016, Alavida currently has offices in Canada and the USA. More information about Alavida and how treatment works can be found at


Binu Koshy
Media Relations
P: 905-617-1988

Christine Gomes
Marketing Manager

*Source: Canadian Mental Health Association