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September 10, 2019 World Suicide Prevention Day. Reach out… Start the Conversation…

Today, September 10, 2019 is World Suicide Prevention Day. As a writer, a mom, an auntie, a friend…I feel compelled to remind everyone that suicide has become an epidemic in our society and turning a blind eye won’t help.

IF YOU NEED HELP NOW: IN CANADA CALL: Kids/Teens:1-800-668-6868  Anyone: 1-833-456-4566 More numbers available below.

IN USA CALL:1-800-273-8255

As a writer I recognize how powerful words are– spoken or written. They can build a person up or tear them down. Words can soothe and give understanding but so too can they wound and attack.

In my Auntie Says… column I write about teen suicide and bullying on a regular basis. The two are linked with mental health and too often swept under the carpet.

Teen suicide.

It’s a sensitive subject, one that’s whispered about in parking lots and hallways of schools, but rarely addressed openly. People speculate, shake their heads in sadness and helplessness—they don’t know what to do? Is there protocol for visiting a family who’s child committed suicide? Is it okay to ask what happened? What do you say to the parent or sibling?

I live in a small town in British Columbia, Canada. I have no idea whether we’re above or below average for suicides but according to the B.C. Coroner’s report, in 2016, there were twenty-nine suicides province-wide of children aged 10-19 (inclusive)–twenty nine!!

To me that number is staggering and frightening. It should be a wake up call for everyone. 

I had no idea…

And so it goes. No one says a word.

One side of me really gets that—the need for privacy and respect for the family, but a week goes by—then two, and the talk begins to fade and before you know it everyone’s gone on with their busy lives and the loss of a life is forgotten.

A tragic death is left up to speculation and gossip as the shame and stigma of mental illness is shoved back into the closet. We need to talk about it because while many squirm and stutter when it comes to talking about mental illness and teen suicide, the truth is that our young people are suffering and some are losing the battle. There’s the untold story of a young person that’s been lost. This breaks my heart. Why should mental illness and/or suicide define the entire life of a young person?

I’m not an expert in mental health but I do know that youth suicide is happening in our community. I also know that if you break an arm, you go the hospital and if you’re diabetic, you take insulin everyday to save your life. Until we reach the same acceptance of seeking help with mental health issues, the stigma will continue. Depression and anxiety are not always talked about openly and kids may try and deal with it themselves as they’ve been told to suck it up and get on with life. Things like substance abuse, cutting, and self harm can occur without anyone being any the wiser but talking helps. It really does.

Being a kid these days is really difficult. In fact I think it’s much harder than it was in my day. The pressures, both external and internal, that are on students and young people are unbelievable and overwhelming. The constant pressure to be better, to be more, to be something they’re not ready for—is nonstop. The internet and social media is a double edged sword and definitely plays on the minds of our youth. The conversation has started but there’s still a long way to go. 

In CANADA: The Kids Help line is now available by TEXT. This is so awesome. It can be difficult to put your feelings into words, let alone actually saying them out loud, but to text and connect is an opportunity for young people to “talk” to someone and hopefully get some help. 

Need help now? Counsellors are available 24/7 at Kids help line 1-800-668-6868 or TEXT 686868

Ages 20 Years and Under in Canada 1-800-668-6868 (Online or on the Phone)
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness 24/7 Help Line 1-855-242-3310
Canadian Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419
Trans LifeLine – All Ages 1-877-330-6366

Check out the website too.

In USA: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

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