September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. On this day people joined together to promote an understanding about suicide. Within the Prairie Mountain Health region, in Brandon the Suicide Prevention Implementation Network (SPIN) marked World Suicide Prevention Day by acknowledging individuals and organizations who are making efforts to create a suicide safer community. In Swan River a community walk took place to recognize the day.
It is a shocking fact that 800,000 people are lost to suicide across the world yearly. In Canada, each day, there are ten suicide deaths and 250 more suicide attempts daily. Countless others have suicidal thoughts. The ripple effect of suicide leads to a considerable amount of people impacted by this devastating moment.
It is apparent that a strong need persists to continue to recognize and address suicide as a vital community health problem. The lack of understanding about suicide promotes fear and stigma. Stigma can create a wall of silence that can be harmful. It prevents people from reaching out to a suicidal person. It also isolates and prevents a suicidal person from seeking help when needed. The stigma around suicide (labels suicide as “weak” or “crazy”) can deny a person the human right and permission to seek help and support. No one is immune to this tragedy.
People often fear intervening. Taking a minute to reach out to someone, a close family member or friend, even a stranger can change the course of their life. The intense pain, hopelessness and despair that lead to thoughts of suicide can be incredibly isolating. Compassion and empathy can help turn things around. A genuine conversation can make all the difference. It is a myth that asking or talking about suicide will put the idea in someone’s head.
When someone is struggling:
- check-in with them
- listen supportively to what they have to say
- remember that you don’t have to have all the answers
- know the resources if they need additional support
- be prepared to assist them in finding information
Tragically, when someone dies by suicide, the pain is not gone; it is merely transferred to family, friends and communities. Survivors must cope with the feelings of sadness at the loss, plus all the conflicting emotions of anger, guilt, confusion and sometimes relief that their loved one is no longer in pain. Individuals who have lost someone to suicide also require compassion, understanding and support from family, friends and their community to work through these painful feelings. With time, understanding, and the genuine kindness and concern of others, the survivors’ grief will soften.
If one’s grief feels like too much to bear, there is also the help of a mental health professional. An experienced therapist can help one work through their intense emotions and overcome obstacles to their grieving.
Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) Community Mental Health Team has an active Mental Health Promotion Strategy with the goal to increase awareness and knowledge about mental health including the nature of suicide; to generate action to prevent and eliminate stigma and discrimination.
For a complete list of suicide prevention training please click here.
For more information and resources visit: www.suicideprevention.ca