Suicide rate in Canada’s Alberta up 30% amid oil industry layoffs

© Reuters
Huge job cuts in the oil producing Canadian province of Alberta are coinciding with a dramatic increase in local suicide rates.

In the first six months of 2014 there were 252 suicides in Alberta. In the same period in 2015, there were 327, and could reach 654 suicides this year if the trend continues, reports CBC.

"This is staggering. It's far more, far exceeds anything we would ever have expected, and we would never have expected to see this much this soon," Mara Grunau, who heads the Centre for Suicide Prevention told CBC.

David Kirby, a counselor at Calgary Distress Centre, says the number of calls to the organization have increased since this year’s layoffs in the energy sector.

"For me it says something really about the horrible human impact of what's happening in the economy with the recession and the real felt effect, the real suffering and the real struggle that people are experiencing," he said.

This has made Alberta increase its mental health budget.

"In the budget we saw money specifically earmarked for mental health and we're hoping that some of it will be directly put into suicide prevention," said Grunau.

On Monday, the Canadian dollar dropped to 11-year lows. This happened after OPEC decided on Friday to practically abandon its long-time strategy of limiting production to control prices.

The Canadian currency is down 15 percent from a year ago. Until this year oil was the country’s biggest export. According to last week’s data, Canada’s unemployment rate unexpectedly increased in November.

As of 2:00pm GMT on Tuesday, Brent benchmark was trading at $40.13 per barrel, which is 60 cents lower than the previous close. Oil prices are down almost 40 percent from the same day in 2014.