I grew up in a refugee camp to begin with, and since my parents didn't speak German, I was not able to pick up the language very quickly, so I went to kindergarten and was picked on for not knowing German. Not just by fellow kids, but also the teachers, who isolated me and never included me in anything.
On January 23rd, I learned that a good friend had taken his own life the day before. The news of his suicide quickly overwhelmed our group of friends with feelings of deep sadness and confusion. We engaged in the heartbreaking exercise of wondering what we had missed and whether we had failed our friend.
We continue to be bombarded with graphically depicted messages that either romanticize suicide in terms of simplistic Romeo and Juliet dreck, or unfairly portray those in the midst of a mental illness crisis as "mad." We start believing falsehoods that keep perpetuating negative stereotypes and stigma.
Many people may experience an oft-ignored phenomenon well-known to existing singletons - that single people can be marginalized in 21st-century Canada. Like all forms of social marginalization, it can result from the attitudes of individual people, as well as from government and institutional policies.
In Canada, men account for three out of every four suicides -- with seven men dying by suicide every day. And the risk is even greater for gay and bisexual men, who are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual men. Which isn't surprising since they also experience higher levels of harassment, discrimination in the workplace and are more likely to be the victims of violent crime.
Each one of us knows a child or a teen who is struggling with either depression, anxiety, an addiction or a behavioural disorder like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mental illness not only causes high levels of distress in children, but can also interfere in significant and real ways with their lives.
Whether help comes in the form of artillery fire, jet fighters, or helicopter gunships, no expense is spared to support and protect our troops when the bullets start flying. But is the federal government willing to continue to fork out $85 a day to keep each of our veterans with PTSD out of harm's way? Apparently not!
When it comes to Movember and men's health, the focus has typically been on prostate and testicular cancer. However, there is another common male medical condition that has been relatively overlooked: depression. Clinical depression is a costly and debilitating condition that affects approximately five per cent of the Canadian population in any given year, and 10 per cent of Canadians over the course of a lifetime.
Suicide is hard. It is hard to even say the word let alone imagine that someone close to you might think that is the only path forward is to take their own life. It's hard to relate, surreal on many levels. But take a minute to imagine. Imagine losing one of the people you love the most by suicide. Does your stomach drop, your heart race, tears come to your eyes or even fear race through your bones?
The diagnosis of PTSD requires that a person has "...experienced, witnessed or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others." The traumatic event must provoke intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
Publicly-funded hospitals are not constituted "primarily for religious purposes." All Ontario hospitals, Catholic and others, exist to deliver medically necessary services, and all are funded by provinces for that purpose. All hospitals offer the aid and support of religious counsel to families that request it. All hospitals have quiet spaces for reflection and prayer.
On the night of Tuesday April 28, 2009 our son died by suicide. As the shock lifted we began the agonizing process of trying to comprehend our new reality. Our 23-year old son had lived with a robust disease that had been brewing for years. He was a strong, intelligent young man; however, even he could not see where his path was headed. Mental illness is a formidable foe. Our tragedy is his absence from our ordinary lives. We are now referred to as survivors. What exactly we are surviving is unclear. We are broken in so many places; trying to put the puzzle that was our life back together. Only now, the pieces do not match.
Our daughter Maddie tragically took her own life at the tender age of fourteen and forever changed the lives of our family and friends.... Maddie's Mom, our boys and friends have made it a personal mission to tell our story, bring greater awareness to youth mental illness and help create better access for those families currently affected by this troubling disease. With all this attention being paid to this illness, largely promoted through the likes of social media, are we fuelling the fire and putting the idea of suicide in our youths' heads?