September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day.
This time last year I learnt the horrendous news that a girl I had gone to school with had committed suicide in her university dorm room. She was 19, she had her whole life ahead of her, and on the surface seemed happy – it was a shock to everyone. Perhaps one of the darkest details of the story was that she was not discovered until five days after she had died. Learning the news really affected me in a big way and I started looking into ways that I could help with youth suicide, by researching various help lines and support groups that I could perhaps volunteer with. A few weeks later I got the job here in Vanderhoof so that idea was put on hold.
I was reminded of this last week when I received an email about World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide is the second biggest killer next to motor vehicle accidents of young people in Canada. It’s not something to be taken lightly.
For many young people the next few months are an extremely stressful time and can be quite traumatic. In particular I am speaking of those going off to university and College for the first time. Being away from home for the first time and therefore being forced into a much more independent situation while often having to deal with huge social pressures as well.
I remember the first time I went to university – I actually only lasted three months – it was a miserable time for me and I found it really tough. I’m lucky that I have a hugely supportive and openly communicative family who got me through that tough time. Suicidal thoughts carry a stigma along with them that prevents many people from speaking up and seeking help.
Canada has one of the worst adolescent suicide rates in the world. Every year approximately 300 children between 10 and 19, kill themselves.
It’s so important to look out for your friends and family at such a time like this and not to dismiss feelings of depression or threats as a phase that will pass.
Anyone looking for support or help for yourself or someone you know can call 1-800-SUICIDE or go to www.youthinbc.com.