Political debate postponed after man dies by suicide on steps of Alberta legislature

Click to play video: 'Man shoots himself on steps of Alberta Legislature'
Man shoots himself on steps of Alberta Legislature
Edmonton police, EMS and Alberta Sheriffs taped off the steps of the Alberta Legislature after a man shot himself there on Monday afternoon. WARNING: This video may be disturbing to some – Dec 2, 2019

An adjournment was called at the Alberta legislature Monday after a man fatally shot himself outside the provincial building at around 3 p.m.

A witness told Global News a man shot himself with a handgun on the front steps.

Police officers were seen performing CPR on a body on the steps. Police taped off the area and covered the body with a pink blanket.

Members of the legislature were debating a private member’s bill when discussion was halted and an adjournment was called due to a health and safety concern.

The house was adjourned until 7:30 p.m.

Edmonton police confirmed the incident is non-criminal.

In a news release, the office of the speaker of the legislature said there was “a security incident shortly after 3 p.m… involving a firearm” on the front steps.

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Staff said there is no danger to anyone else on scene and “the matter has been contained by security and the Edmonton Police Service.”

Alberta Sheriffs are helping hold the scene, the 4:30 p.m. news release explained.

In a message on Twitter, Premier Jason Kenney said he was “saddened by the tragic event that occurred outside the legislature.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family and loved ones,” he tweeted. “If you need help, or know someone who does, please call Alberta’s Mental Health Helpline: 1-877-303-2642.”

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Opposition leader Rachel Notley also shared the helpline on social media.

“My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of the individual involved in today’s tragic incident,” she tweeted.

Click to play video: 'Alberta Legislature adjourned after man shoots himself on front steps'
Alberta Legislature adjourned after man shoots himself on front steps

On Tuesday, Alberta Justice said sheriffs were stationed nearby at the legislature on Monday afternoon but “did not have any time to intervene.”

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“This event has, understandably, prompted questions about safety and security at the legislature and on the surrounding grounds,” government spokesperson Jason van Rassel said.

“The legislature and the public spaces around it are Crown property meant for the public’s use and enjoyment. The Alberta Sheriffs are responsible for providing security at government facilities, while at the same time ensuring public safety at the legislature grounds. We will continue to strike a balance that preserves the safe functioning of our democratic institutions, while at the same time ensuring the public has access to its government and civic spaces.

“We are saddened by this tragic event, and our sincerest condolences go out to the family and loved ones involved. If you, or anyone you know, needs help, please know that help is available. The Alberta Mental Health Help Line is open 24/7 and provides free, confidential assistance: 1-877-303-2642.”

MLAs addressed the difficult incident on Tuesday.

“It’s a loss that too many people know. I want to remind everyone experiencing those challenges that there are services available 24/7 and you are not alone,” UCP MLA and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan said inside the legislature.

“We must all work together to talk openly about depression, mental health challenges and suicide. These challenges are all too often silent until the tragedy makes them painfully visible,” he said.

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NDP MLA Heather Sweet also made a statement in the house.

“Even though we may not know his name, we know of the common struggles he faced. The feeling of isolation, unloved, unwanted, struggling with the perceived failures.

“We must take real steps to address the mental health crisis in the province. By working together across all party lines, we can continue to build on the resources and supports that all people need,” Sweet said.

“We all know in this house there is much more to do. For those that are in need of support today, please reach out. If you feel like you can’t speak to a friend or a family member, call the mental health line.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta MLAs address suicide outside legislature: ‘Please reach out’'
Alberta MLAs address suicide outside legislature: ‘Please reach out’

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

If you are in need of support, you can call the Health Link at 811 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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