Suicide touches many people
On Sept. 10, I marked World Suicide Prevention day with personal contemplation. I think I would be hard pressed to find a person who has not been touched by the tragedies surrounding suicide.
According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, each day in Canada 11 people end their lives and 210 make a suicide attempt.
People who commit suicide come from all age groups and can be found across the social-economic spectrum. This is a sobering statistic and one that deeply saddens me.
The biggest thing I think we can do for our residents is to keep the discussion about suicide at the forefront. Even today, suicide is one of those things that no one wants to talk about in the community.
We all must be watchful for the signs from our family members or colleagues. A lot of people who want to commit suicide often feel that no one out there cares for them. Many times they don’t realize that their death may impact hundreds to thousands of people. Many people who take the dark road towards suicide often are clouded with emotions making them feel that things will not get better.
Most crises usually do not last for the long term. Financial hardships, breakups, job loss are all potentially catastrophic events in someone’s life. As time goes on, solutions are typically found to these problems and happier times will come.
I cannot try to imagine what some people are going through, but I do know that people contemplating suicide are very strong individuals. Suicide is not a “weak” character trait. What we all have to focus on is what is important in our lives, whether it is family, friends, religion etc.
This connection to what is important to us can help when we are going through hard times.
Suicidal thoughts should not be left for people to figure out on their own. If you are feeling suicidal, contact someone who you trust and speak to them.
We also must remember that we cannot “fix” someone. Struggles with mental health can last a lifetime. For family or friends who suspect that a person may be suicidal, look at the warning signs.
If a person is talking about death or suicide or making direct statements that they want to kill themselves, do not ignore it. Suicidal persons may often increase substance abuse and have mood changes. They may avoid people and be quick to anger. Others may act very listless and give off a sense of hopelessness.
Some signs that someone may be going from thoughts of suicide to an active plan of suicide may be: Giving away possessions. Putting affairs in order suddenly.
Saying goodbye to people in a way that it sounds like they are leaving for a long time.
Neglecting their care and personal hygiene.
If a resident suspects that someone is feeling suicidal. Don’t be afraid to be obvious and ask them directly if they are contemplating. You are not planting the seed in someone’s head if you ask. Most times, people will feel a sense of relief that someone has acknowledged the pain that they are experiencing.
They also may feel valued and loved because someone has put the time and effort to ask them if they are ok. If you are uncomfortable in approaching someone and talking about suicide, put that person in contact with someone who can.
In Nova Scotia, we have a mental health mobile crisis team. This is a 24-hour, seven-day a week crisis line for all ages who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can contact 902-429-8167 or toll free at 1-888-429-8167.
I can attest first hand on the crisis that we are presently dealing with on Mental Health. I’ve seen a steady increase in mental health related calls since my tenure as a police officer. I don’t see it getting any better and imagine that I will continue to see it get worse for at least the short term.
Other resources available for residents in crisis is the kids help phone at 416-586-5437. For seniors, we are fortunate to have a senior safety coordinator in our community. Ray Bristol can be contacted at 902-6677484.
If Ray doesn’t know the answer, he will make sure that he’ll get the answer from one of his community connections. Seniors can also call the senior abuse crisis line at 1-877521-1188. Our community also has a sexual assault outreach worker, Nicole Long, who can be contacted at 902-694-7869 and Autumn House transition house which can be contacted at their 24 hour crisis line at 902-667-1200. Cumberland Mental Health Services can be contacted at 902-667-3879.
Our community is very fortunate to have a coalition called CAST. CAST stands for Communities Addressing Suicide Together. This committee’s goal is to work with the community in building their capacity to address suicide. The group has been offering safe talk training sessions throughout the Cumberland County Area. I do want to acknowledge the hard and tireless work that Janice Melanson has done with this committee.
Anyone interested in joining the CAST coalition can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe everyone.
I met Eldon Hay many years ago when my activism for LGBTQ rights was well underway. I had heard of Eldon many times and became impressed with the hard work he was involved with attempting to change the plight of Canada’s LGBTQ community.
Eldon Hay left our world on Sept. 17, 2017 in Sackville, N.B., as a result of pancreatic cancer.
His overwhelming passion for equal rights for all was so sincere and his love for humankind beyond reproach. He was a constant in his endeavour to make positive change. He was also a sought after speaker and advisor and this became Eldon’s way of contributing to the betterment of Canada’s LGBTQ citizens.
He possessed the ability to understand and not unduly criticize, instead chose to put a positive spin on things.
Those of us who knew Eldon were very much aware of the gift he had of touching the lives of those who needed his wise council, regardless of sexual orientation, religious background, gender identity, or any other unique quality we may possess. Everyone felt his positive attitude.
Strong of character and determined, he marched on the road to equality for all. I know I may speak on behalf of the LGBTQ community who want to acknowledge their appreciation of his work in our community and his activism in human rights.
Eldon Hay was a retired United Church minister and Professor of Religion at Mount Allison University. He was married with seven children, including a lesbian daughter and a gay son, resulting in Eldon’s determination to tackle the issues concerning equality.
Son Ron, describes his father as a man of passion, compassion, principle and love.
“My concern about telling him was that he’d go, ‘Yes, I have