The Aboriginal community is reeling from the recent suicide of an 11-year-old boy in Nunavut. And before the shock has even had a chance to wear off, the finger pointing began. Did the boy commit suicide because he was living in an isolated northern community? Did he suffer from abuse? Were mental health services not readily available? Was there not enough funding for suicide prevention programs?
With the recent, tragic, and unnecessary death of bullying victim Amanda Todd, I believe that it is time to talk about suicide openly. Having the nation begin to talk about bullying and suicide prevention should have happened a long time ago. I am sad that it has taken an end to a life to begin talking about suicide so openly but it is something we must talk about to prevent it.
Although collecting health statistics across the world can seem almost impossible because of political unrest, economic problems, wars, and simple bureacracy, the World Health Organization has been collecting mortality statistics since the 1950s for most countries. Are suicide rates declining worldwide?
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. There was a time not too long ago where I wasn't planning on being around for the occasion. I am a suicide survivor. On December 9, 2010, I went to a public washroom, downed a container of pills and counted down what I thought were my final hours. Tomorrow was never supposed to come. Surviving an attempt has its own difficulties. My decision to reveal this was rooted in my frustration at society's stigma towards those with mental illness and the lack of understanding about suicide.
My suicide attempts were five years apart and each time I felt emotional pain that was too deep to describe. To me, ending my life was the only way to solve my problems which I've learned is not the case. There's a classic saying that goes, "Live everyday as if it's your last." While mental illness and suicide are very challenging topics, we need to treat those around us as if today is their last day too -- with love and respect.
There have been two recent suicides in our small community, which I find distressing. When a suicide happens we usually learn about it from the local whispering network, but rarely from the news. The reason is obvious: local media still protect surviving families from guilt or shame. Suicide is too common, yet preventable, and the the subject is still taboo.