Well-meaning parents, friends, and even youth themselves, can struggle to decipher the difference between a typical mood swing and a more severe mood disorder or form of mental illness. More often than not, people dismiss or ignore the signs of mental illness, thinking they are normal or a phase that will pas
Despite recent headlines, Canadian rates of suicide and attempted suicide have remained largely unchanged over the last several decades. What has changed is that we've seen increasing rates of suicide in the Canadian military recently, after stable rates for decades. The problem of suicide is not limited to the military in Canada; indigenous populations, especially in northern remote communities, have high rates of suicide. We need a unified approach across provincial and federal sectors to reduce suicides in the military, among veterans and civilians.
We think, perhaps, we could have done something differently -- made a move or said the right words that might have tipped the balance in favour of life. Death is not easy on a regular basis, but it becomes tainted and shame-faced when described as a suicide. It's as if we, the survivors, have somehow failed to do our part.
Like most women in Canada, I feel issues that affect me are generally ignored by politicians, especially on a federal level. There was some buzz on September 21st over the #UpForDebate, which was a panel featuring video clips from political party leaders and a panel of women discussing these clips about the neglected issues women in Canada face. As a woman I should perhaps feel positive and hopeful with this progress, that finally these issues are being addressed at least in some capacity. But as a trans woman I already know that issues affecting my unique needs and concerns will be ignored.
News that former NHL enforcer Todd Ewen's recent death was ruled a suicide saddened me. There is no doubt in my mind that competitive sports exact a physical and mental toll on professional athletes -- deaths are not just the consequences of a violent game and the long-term nefarious effects of injuries incurred on these athlete's bodies and brains, but a reflection of a society that does not allow for its men to be weak.
In Canada, it's not clear to what extent inpatient suicides, or unsuccessful attempts that lead to disability, are considered "never events" by healthcare decision makers, or who is keeping track of them for that matter. The fact is there is a wall of secrecy that surrounds hospital suicide and attempts at self-harm in Canada.
I recently attended a mental health first aid course in order to further educate myself on the various mental illness disorders, the consequences of their severity and their overall prevalence in the population -- My eyes were opened to an entire population of our Canadian people whose rate of suicide was too horrifying to further ignore. As statistics related to aboriginal suicides were listed, I realized that this war being waged against the stigma of mental illness is but one of the many battles that will need to be addressed honestly in order to understand the magnitude of the affliction our mentally ill population is facing. As communities of aboriginals are fighting an invisible disease, society can dismiss the reality of the stigma by citing drugs and alcohol as the weak link in this people's history.
Life is for the living. In the years to come you will wake thinking about your son and not his suicide. In accepting loss, your mind will search for memories of life before depression and suicide became part of your lexicon. There will be much work to do in your son's name and in support of youth suicide prevention.
Two years before I entered high school, I was the victim of a violent rape that took place a mere few kilometres from the football locker room I was now standing in. From the moment of that assault, I chose to disappear, fractured into different people -- the person I was afraid to let you see, the person I wanted you to see, and the young man who struggled with that internal turmoil every day for the next 30 years. I've heard that living as a survivor of rape is like living with a secret tumor. It metastasizes in the dark hollows of shame, and it continues to destabilize and corrupt every bond and every relationship in a survivor's life.
He told me he was fine. He wasn't. Wade's suicide represents a failure of some kind to me. I'm not sure what. I just know that we were friends -- not best friends, but special friends. Special, because we were bonded by the knowledge of each other's illness. Bonded the way undercover cops might be. Why didn't he reach out to me? Had I not instilled in him enough confidence that I "got it?" I wrote about my guilt shortly after his death. In an article for TSN.ca I referred to my guilt as "blood on my hands."