On a late April day in 2009, our world completely fell apart. We were no longer an ordinary family of five. We had instantly become survivors of suicide. For the first time in my life I came close to experiencing the misery and emptiness of depression. The world that my son had inhabited was now in view.
We Need To Talk About It
Suicide never leaves behind a simple narrative. Depression and diseases of the brain arise from a complexity of factors that are often misunderstood. The common thread in suicide is an overarching sense of hopelessness and an inability to see past the present moment. In his memoir, Darkness Visible, William Styron writes: “Depression is a disorder of mood; so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self. To the mediating intellect, as to verge close to being beyond description.”
Thomas Joiner, author of Why People Die by Suicide and asurvivor of suicide loss states: “Various kinds of recklessness may predispose people to suicide precisely because it leaves them open to injury and danger.” Repeated injurious experiences, he suggests, “in turn, make people fearless about a lot of things, including self-injury.”
- The year that my son took his life there were 3,890 suicides in Canada.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people, globally.
- Suicide accounts for 24 percent of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16 percent among 25-44 year olds.
- Only 25 percent of young people with a mental health problem receive professional help.
- Reaching out for help is difficult, but so important. Depression and other mood disorders can be effectively treated and managed. There is no STIGMA in asking for help. Your life means everything to someone.
What We Need To Know Now
The most robust intervention we can offer is the prevention and treatment of depression and other mental illnesses.
Most suicide completion is impulsive and impossible to predict. It’s therefore essential we do whatever we can to reduce risk.
“We are continuously improving our understanding of how the brain operates, enabling us to better understand how to develop new models of thinking about what causes, and how to treat mental illness.” Dr. Roger McIntyre
Where Do We Go From Here
Suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds, globally, with males dying by suicide at higher rates than females. While there has never been greater awareness around mental health, mental illness and suicide, suicide rates continue to rise.
In this context we can look at the important role of health care providers.
“Research indicates that health care providers need to separate intervening in the acute, transitory suicidal state from other efforts to treat underlying mental health disorders/addictions. In other words -detection and treatment of underlying condition still is necessary but not sufficient to reduce suicides. A person has to be helped to stay alive until treatment works and any deadly impulses abate.”
Dr. L Sederer Dr. Jay Carruthers, How Doctors Think: Suicide Prevention
Reducing Stigma • Access to Treatment • Youth Suicide Prevention
- Creation & Promotion of accessible community-based support for young adults.
- Mental Health Awareness & Suicide Prevention training for health care providers.
- Anti stigma philosophy promotion from elementary grades through grade 12.
- Enhanced support and resources for survivors of suicide loss.
- Communication between families and post-secondary institutions.
- Media is an integral part of sharing and disseminating research and mental health/suicide prevention information to the public.
- Media awareness and sensitivity to reporting on mental illness/violence and suicide.