Spring­dale area res­i­dents join world­wide ef­fort to pre­vent sui­cide

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - EDITORIAL -

SPRING­DALE, NL — Ev­ery year, more than 800,000 peo­ple die by sui­cide, and up to 25 times as many make a sui­cide at­tempt.

Be­hind th­ese statis­tics, pro­vided by the or­ga­niz­ers of World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day (Sept. 10), are the in­di­vid­ual sto­ries of those who have, for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, ques­tioned the value of their own lives.

Each one of th­ese in­di­vid­u­als is part of a com­mu­nity. Some may be well linked into this com­mu­nity with a net­work of fam­ily, friends, work col­leagues or school­mates. Oth­ers may be less con­nected, and some may be quite iso­lated. Re­gard­less of cir­cum­stances, com­mu­ni­ties have an im­por­tant role to play in sup­port­ing those who are vul­ner­a­ble.

This sen­ti­ment is re­flected in the theme of the 2017 World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day, “Take a minute, change a life.” As mem­bers of com­mu­ni­ties, it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to look out for those who may be strug­gling, check in with them, and en­cour­age them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Of­fer­ing a gen­tle word of sup­port and lis­ten­ing in a non-judge­men­tal way can make all the dif­fer­ence.

Tak­ing a minute can change a life

Peo­ple who have lived through a sui­cide at­tempt have much to teach us about the im­por­tance of the words and ac­tions of oth­ers. They of­ten talk about reach­ing the point where they could see no al­ter­na­tive but to take their own life, and about the days, hours and min­utes lead­ing up to this. They of­ten de­scribe re­al­is­ing they did not want to die, but in­stead wanted some­one to in­ter­vene and stop them. Many say they ac­tively sought some­one who would sense their de­spair and ask them whether they were okay.

Some say they made a pact with them­selves that if some­one did ask if they were okay, they would tell them ev­ery­thing and al­low them to in­ter­vene. Sadly, they of­ten re­flect that no­body asked.

The in­di­vid­u­als telling th­ese sto­ries are in­spi­ra­tional. Many of them re­count reach­ing the point where they did try to take their own lives, and tell about com­ing through it. Many are now work­ing as ad­vo­cates for sui­cide pre­ven­tion. Al­most uni­ver­sally, they say if some­one had taken a minute, the tra­jec­tory they were on could have been in­ter­rupted.

Life is pre­cious and some­times pre­car­i­ous. Tak­ing a minute to reach out to some­one — a stranger or close fam­ily mem­ber or friend — can change the course of their life.

No­body has to have all the an­swers

Peo­ple are of­ten re­luc­tant to in­ter­vene, even if they are quite con­cerned about some­one. There are many rea­sons for this, not least that they fear they will not know what to say. It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber, how­ever, there is no hard and fast for­mula. In­di­vid­u­als who have come through an episode of se­vere sui­ci­dal think­ing of­ten say they were not look­ing for spe­cific ad­vice, but com­pas­sion and em­pa­thy from oth­ers helped to turn things around for them and point them to­wards re­cov­ery.

An­other fac­tor that de­ters peo­ple from start­ing the con­ver­sa­tion is fear they may make the sit­u­a­tion worse. Again, this hes­i­ta­tion is un­der­stand­able — broach­ing the topic of sui­cide is dif­fi­cult and there is a myth that talk­ing about sui­cide with some­one can put the idea into their head or trig­ger the act.

Ev­i­dence sug­gests this is not the case. Car­ing and lis­ten­ing with a non-judge­men­tal ear are far more likely to re­duce dis­tress than ex­ac­er­bate it.

Re­sources are avail­able

Var­i­ous well-es­tab­lished re­sources are de­signed to equip peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively with those who might be vul­ner­a­ble to sui­cide. Men­tal health first aid, for ex­am­ple, is premised on the idea that many peo­ple know what to do if they en­counter some­one who has had a phys­i­cal health emer­gency, like a heart at­tack (dial an am­bu­lance, ad­min­is­ter car­diopul­monary re­sus­ci­ta­tion), but feel out of their depth if they are faced with some­one ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal or emo­tional cri­sis. Men­tal health first aid teaches a range of skills, in­clud­ing how to pro­vide ini­tial sup­port to some­one in th­ese cir­cum­stances. Rel­e­vant re­sources can be found on the web­sites of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion (https:// www.iasp.info/re­sources) and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (http://www.who.int).

World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day

2017 marks the 15th World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day. The day was first recog­nised in 2003 as an ini­tia­tive of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion and en­dorsed by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day takes place each year Sept. 10, when peo­ple around the world work to­wards the com­mon goal of pre­vent­ing sui­cide.

ISAAC CHAULK/SPE­CIAL TO THE NOR’WESTER

Josh Steven­son, Vanessa Fal­coner and Sharon Pel­ley joined in the World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Night walk and can­dle vigil in Spring­dale Mon­day evening.

ISAAC CHAULK/SPE­CIAL TO THE NOR’WESTER

The sui­cide pre­ven­tion event in Spring­dale in­cluded a walk by the par­tic­i­pants.

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