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To Teens In The Darkness: Tomorrow Needs You, We All Need You

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I could write this a million times and not get it right. Writing about young people and suicide is replaying the worst moment in my life and reliving it over and over.

I wake up every day wondering what if? What if I said something different? What if I tried something else? What if...

Suicide sucks. To know that someone I loved more than I can ever say -- thought that death would be better -- is to live everyday in pain and regret. I regret I didn't call her that night. She needed her dad.

I regret every time she cried and I didn't know what to do. Most of all I regret not having the answer I needed to save her life.

I can't think of a more difficult or more important subject to write about than youth and suicide. Suicide accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24. Overall in Canada, suicide claims almost 4,000 lives a year.

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But statistics aren't people and those numbers are meaningless unless you can see the faces and smiles of those we've lost and know the stories behind their tragic deaths. Suicide has no age, gender, race, religion, or political view. It can and does impact people from all walks of life and it sadly has no easy way for us to deal with it or to prevent it. I wish it did.

Chances are you don't talk much about suicide because it is still looked at like it's a choice or an admission of failure. Suicide is a topic that society keeps in the realm of the taboo and that helps no one.

The only thing in common the thousands of people who will end their lives this year have is the permanency of their death, and the grief for those left behind. Left behind to forever wonder why and ask questions of ourselves that can never be answered.

You may have lost someone you loved to suicide or know someone who has. You may have contemplated suicide yourself only to find a bright spot to hang onto. Chances are you don't talk much about suicide because it is still looked at like it's a choice or an admission of failure. Suicide is a topic that society keeps in the realm of the taboo and that helps no one.

Making the tragic decision to end one's life is rarely in the hands of the person who is thinking about it. Ultimately, suicide can happen to anyone of us if we suffer from problems we perceive as beyond our control: despair, depression, uncontrollable anger, fear, crippling anxiety, loss, loneliness, addiction, financial ruin, or severe mental health problems.

Suicide will make sense to the person doing it, but it won't make sense to anyone else. Suicide is very personal, but it doesn't have to be. Someone who ends their own life believes at the moment that there is no other way to end the pain they feel.

We need to openly talk about suicide in the conversations we have with loved ones, families, and friends. We need to talk about suicide and mental health in school so young people will know options are available and there are people who can help. We have to stop pretending suicide is a dark, dirty secret and start treating it like it is preventable. Maybe not 100 per cent, but there is a lot we can be doing.

We need to openly talk about suicide in the conversations we have with loved ones, families, and friends. We need to talk about suicide and mental health in school so young people will know options are available and there are people who can help.

My first experience talking about suicide happened years ago when I offered a stranger a ride home from Church. She told me her son had recently locked himself in the bathroom and used a firearm to end his life. She had no idea why and fought daily to find the answers. He left no note or parting words.

People rarely leave behind a note explaining why. It's doubtful even they know why. I have no idea what my daughter's final thoughts were when she tied a belt around her neck. I know she was angry and hurt. But I also know she had previously said many times she wouldn't do it.

And that's just how it works. Suicide can have numerous warning signs or none at all. It can take years of buildup while those closest do everything they can think of to help and still not be able to save someone they deeply love. Suicide can be planned or it can be an impulsive, spur of the moment act. Last words, if there are any, can be about love and kindness, or rage and hate.

I'm grateful for the last time I was with Rehtaeh. For her last "I love you" and her last goodbye. That night before she hanged herself, she spoke about finding a job, getting her GED, going to university, her sisters, her mom and me. She even booked another appointment with the psychologist I was driving her home from. It destroys me inside to know the very next day she did it. It made no sense at all.

I keep thinking over and over what I could have done to save her and I will grieve over that for the rest of my life.

rehtaeh parsons
Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 when she was taken off life support in April 2013 after attempting suicide. (Photo: Facebook)

I hear from people all the time in similar circumstances and they ask me what to do. But I really don't know. Nobody really knows because every person is so different and unique and by the time someone asks they are already in a very dangerous situation.

There are no easy answers to suicide, but there are things we can all do to put the right thoughts into the minds of young people contemplating death being better than life.

A few days ago I posted a question asking people who at one point wrestled with their own suicide and what saved them. What thought kept them alive and allowed them to carry on. The answers were heartbreaking, but inspiring.

Some told me they thought of their loved ones. Their children, parents, and siblings. Some thought of the simple things in life that are worth sticking around for and the curiosity of what tomorrow would bring.

"Fear of missing out. Wanting to know what will happen and giving things a chance to get better. Just in case."

"Knowing that ultimately, in the struggle, I am never truly alone."

"That even if I'm 25, I still have a lot to live for."

"My child..... And the pain she would have to suffer..... Without me."

"The only thing that stopped me at that moment, was a child to be left behind. She would never know what really happened. That's the only thing that kept me alive. It's the only thing that keeps me here. Even to this day I struggle."

"My husband. I saw how broken he'd become because of my past trauma and my illness. And I saw how hard he kept fighting for me to live."

If you're a young person dealing with thoughts of suicide, please know -- tomorrow is worth sticking around for. Tomorrow will be better and this will pass. Tomorrow needs you.

For me, when I was seventeen, I stood in our garage and looked around to see which beam would hold my weight. I don't know what stopped me. I've thought of suicide since Rehtaeh's death. Being in love has seen me through.

If you're a young person dealing with thoughts of suicide, please know -- tomorrow is worth sticking around for. Tomorrow will be better and this will pass. Tomorrow needs you.

Find something to hold on to. A pet. A garden. Wanting to see a movie. Find something to hold onto and know life is worth sticking around for. This will pass. You'll be OK.

In your darkest moment, say to yourself, "Not today. Tomorrow needs me. I need to see what it brings."

Tomorrow needs you. We all need you.

If you or someone you know is at risk please contact your nearest Crisis Centre or call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.

Frame Of Mind is a new series inspired by The Maddie Project that focuses on teens and mental health. The series will aim to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email cablogteam@huffingtonpost.com

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