Even though World Suicide Prevention Day has come and gone, many people I’ve interviewed who work in mental health and addictions care have said the work that goes into suicide prevention has to be done every day. It’s not something we can relegate to just one day a year.
This is an important topic for me. In 2012 I lost my cousin to suicide. While people close to me had perished from addiction, I never thought losing someone to suicide would impact me this closely.
My cousin was the mother of two beautiful kids and seemingly had it all. She was well off, travelled often and seemed to always be having a good time. What many of us in my family didn’t know was she was running from internal demons.
My cousin and I were pretty close. I recall having a conversation with her a month prior to her death. She seemed disturbed, and I immediately noticed the person I was speaking to wasn’t who I knew and loved. She was fighting something she had no idea how to deal with.
I had told family members we should do more to check in with her because she was clearly struggling. At the time, I didn’t know how to help someone who was unknowingly that close to the edge.
She died early in the morning. I remember being woken up by a family member who told me the news. I couldn’t believe it.
To this day, I still constantly wonder what I could have done, and what my family could have done. I’ll never understand why her death happened. What could hurt so bad that she would want to leave? All I know for sure is whatever she was struggling with became too much to bear.
That was eight years ago. I wish the topic of suicide was a more frequent discussion then. Maybe then she would have been aware of resources available to help her. Maybe she would have felt there was somewhere she could turn.
Ever since, I have made sure I am someone people can turn to. If I feel I can’t help the way I should, I have learned about the resources I can point to that could possibly save someone’s life.
Talking about suicide prevention is especially important this year as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are going through a lot right now – lost jobs, unpaid bills, struggles with addiction, evictions, uncertainty and anything else you may want to throw on the pile.
Anyone in need of support can call Health Link at 811, the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642 and Crisis Services Canada at 833-456-4566. Additionally, text and online options are available for all Alberta youth through calgaryconnecteen.com