Sharing About Suicide Prevention -
Reported By Daniel Bushman (The Watrous Manitou)
It is estimated that each day in Canada, 10 people end their life while 200 people make a suicide attempt. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention said suicide can occur across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries, leaving countless family and friends bereaved and their communities impacted. This year, like any year, people are encouraged to work together to prevent suicide, shining a light on the importance of the issue while spreading a message of help, hope and healing.
World Suicide Prevention Day is being marked Sept. 10 and mental health advocate Heidi Fischer is hoping the day will be used as an opportunity to shed some light on suicide. Going through her own experiences of suicide and helping those who have had similar situations, Fischer said, “The word suicide in and of itself remains highly stigmatized and hush-hush. People worry that by speaking it, they will somehow put it into someone’s mind. The truth is, asking someone in a kind and compassionate way if they are contemplating suicide can be one of the largest deterrents. Having this day to remember, it is not wrong to talk about it and it can hopefully encourage conversations in the future. It is also an important day for those who have lost someone to suicide. A day to remember, mourn, and work on prevention plans in memory of their loved ones.”
Fischer, who resides in Saskatoon and has family in Humboldt has opened up about her personal experiences with mental illness and continues to fight to reduce stigma, encourage hope and along the way, share a few laughs. On Instagram as @mentalhealthyxe, Fischer has also created a website (www.mentalhealthyxe.com) where she works to normalize mental illness, reduce stigma and to impress upon others that they are not alone with their particular struggle.
“I have major depressive disorder and if you look up the diagnostic criteria of many mental illnesses, you will find in the symptoms list: recurring thoughts of death or suicide. I know this pain, but I also know what it is like to recover. I want others to know that if they are depressed and having thoughts of death, that it is nothing to be ashamed of, it is part of the disorder, and it can be treated. Reaching out for help is not weak, it is strong.”
Fischer touched on a few statistics related to suicide and said it is the second leading cause of death for individuals in the 15 to 24 year range and First Nations youth are five to six times more at risk of suicide than non-aboriginal youth. “Yet it is important to note, statistics show between 80 to 90 percent of all people with depression respond to treatment and nearly all who receive treatment see at least some relief from their symptoms.”
According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, today in Canada, suicide will leave up to 100 people in state of bereavement. The latest research shows there were 3,926 suicides in Canada in 2016 and 2015, over 3.3 million Canadians aged 12 and over had suicidal thoughts. With males three times more likely to die by suicide than females, statistics show men are more likely to die by suicide but females are three times more likely to attempt to end their lives.
With an importance placed on reaching out to those who may be contemplating suicide or are having suicidal thoughts, Fischer provided some advice from her own experiences.
“Firstly, this is for informational purposes and should not replace the advice of a doctor or other medical professional. In my experiences, keeping an honest, compassionate, and non-judgmental dialogue is key. There can be a lot of shame attached to having suicidal feelings. If a person chooses to open up, it is other people’s reactions that can determine if the person is willing to discuss it in the future. Be empathetic. Do not get angry, overreact, or embarrass them. If the person is in need of emergency support, remember to allow them as much choice and independence in the process as possible. If you are unsure what you should do, call a local hotline. If they are not in immediate danger consider how you can help, that best suits your relationship. You could help them create a safety plan and phone number list, set up a doctor’s appointment, drive them to therapy, or simply spend time together. Do not be afraid to ask them again how they are feeling in the future.”
If people are having thoughts of suicide, Fischer strongly encourages them to reach out. “Speak to a professional, a loved one, call a hotline, or seek emergency services. There is hope and treatment available.”
The following are some numbers for people to call if they are having thoughts of suicide:
• HealthLine: 811
• Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566
• Farm Stress Line: 1-800-667-4442
• Mental Health and Addiction Rural Services for Lanigan, Nokomis, Strasbourg, Watrous and Wynyard areas: 306-365-3400
• First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310