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Roots of Hope Promising Practice Exchange Case Studies – Spotlight on Edmonton, Alberta


Edmonton is situated in a central Alberta area that measures 648 square kilometres. Its urban population of more than 970,000 reaches nearly 1.5 million across the wider metro area. Visible minorities make up about 37 per cent of the city’s population, with South Asian, Chinese, ACB (African, Caribbean, and Black), and Filipino people making up the largest communities in this group. A further 5.5 per cent identify as Indigenous, a relatively large population compared to cities in other provinces.

Edmonton’s unemployment rate in July 2019 was 7.5 per cent, an increase of one per cent compared to July of 2018. Between 1998 and 2018, the proportion of employees earning minimum wage doubled to 10.4 per cent from 5.2%.

Currently available data “does not give a precise picture of who is dying by suicide in Edmonton, mainly because not every death by suicide is reported as such, and it is widely believed that many deaths in which the cause is considered inconclusive may be due to suicide”.

What is known about suicide deaths in Edmonton:

  • “Middle-age males have the highest suicide death rate, where an average 75% of those who die by suicide are males, primarily between the ages of 40 and 59.
  • Suicide is the single greatest cause of injury-related deaths for Indigenous people.
  • It is estimated that for every person who died by suicide, as many as twenty are likely to have attempted suicide.
  • In 2015, 214 people died by suicide in the Edmonton Zone (Edmonton and surrounding areas). Of these, 148 were male and 66 were female.
  • In 2015, there were 2,467 visits and in 2016 there were 2,365 visits to the Emergency Department in the Edmonton Zone due to suicide attempts”.
  • In 2019, there were 2,440 visits to the Emergency Department in the Edmonton Zone due to suicide and self-inflicted injury.
  • That same year, 187 people died by suicide in the Edmonton Zone. Of these, 135 were male and 52 were female.

There is some evidence to suggest that income inequality and poverty are correlated with suicide in Edmonton. An adversity metric created with the available data indicated that areas of the city with higher suicide rates also had a higher adversity metric.


Participation in Roots of Hope infused Edmonton’s efforts with additional funding, fresh hope, and the opportunity to contribute to the ripple effect felt by Roots of Hope communities across Canada.

Over the three years of implementation, Living Hope advanced 49 of the 52 activities outlined in the original implementation plan and observed short-term movement in all outcomes. Impacts of this progress have included expanding Edmontonians’ understanding of mental health and suicide, increasing knowledge about creating safe environments, and supporting those working with priority populations to improve the effectiveness of their services.

In 2021, our community-based implementation team made significant progress on a number of activities, including supporting cross-organization collaboration and sponsorship for the development of a 2SLGBTQ+ helpline, hosting Edmonton’s first men’s mental health forum, and launching the Edmonton Suicide Trends Report, the first of its kind in Alberta and a significant achievement in suicide-related surveillance data.

Living Hope’s relationship with the MHCC validated Edmonton’s community-based approach and strengthened the insights gained from public engagement and evaluation data. In May 2022, the Edmonton City Council committed to invest $1.3 million annually (2023-2026) as part of its Community Safety and Well‑being Strategy to renew and sustain suicide prevention efforts. These community and financial commitments ensure the stability required to maintain momentum between implementation cycles.

Living Hope will continue listening to and creating with service providers and those with lived and living experience to apply what has been learned over the past four years and adapt to the changing needs of the Edmonton community.

Read all Roots of Hope Case Studies

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