Privacy of suicide attempts to be respected

WATCH ABOVE: 16×9’s “Suicide Profiling”

People in Toronto with mental health issues who have non-criminal encounters with police, such as attempted suicide, will not have that information released to anyone asking for background checks, effective this week.

That brings the Toronto Police Service in line with other law enforcement agencies across Canada, on an issue that has long troubled civil rights and mental health groups. They have argued that the release of such information about people in psychological crisis is discriminatory.

READ MORE: Suicide profiling at US border investigated

Brian Beamish, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, described this latest move as a “very significant step forward in privacy protection.” Up to now, employers and community groups could request this information as part of their background checks on people they were thinking of hiring.

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A Toronto police spokeswoman also told 16×9 today that suicide attempts that involve no criminality are no longer submitted to the national police database, CPIC. In an investigation last season, 16×9 told the story of two women who were denied entry into the United States, when US border security guards with access to CPIC records found that these women had attempted suicide in the past. Under US law, that made them a risk to national security.

The women were turned away and told to come back when they had been assessed by a Homeland Security-approved doctor.

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