Suicide. It’s a word that generates fear and misunderstanding. It leaves tongues tied.
But efforts continue to shed light on the issue and particularly Saturday, World Suicide Prevention Day.
“We want to look forward and prevent those tragedies,” said Sharon Durant, human resources and operations manager with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Annually, more than 3,500 Canadians die by suicide. That’s more lives lost than from traffic accidents and homicide combined.
“The impact is a triple effect,” said Durant.
“The impact for everyone in a relationship with the individual or family is huge. Suicide is everyone’s loss.”
A World Suicide Prevention Day ceremony will not be held this year, but residents are encouraged to take time to reflect.
“Light a candle at 8 p.m. in memory of a loved one lost or in support of someone who has lost someone,” said Durant.
A Safe Talk suicide prevention course is being held Sept. 12.
“We want people to feel comfortable asking someone if they have thoughts of suicide and if the answer is yes, what do you do next,” said Danby Felker, facilitator.
Through the half-day session, participants learn about the steps towards intervention.
There is space for 30 participants and they can range from professionals to residents.
“Suicide has been taboo so this opens up the discussion,” said Felker.
From there, there is the applied suicide intervention skills training (ASIST) session Sept. 23 and 24.
“This is first aid for suicide,” said Betty Bates, trainer.
“They recognize how to ask (if there are suicidal thoughts) and direct them to community resources. They keep them safe until they get the help they need.”
Space is still available for ASIST.
“Everybody should consider taking this,” said Bates.
The Suicide Grief Support Group will also be hosting sessions in the fall.
“Society often doesn’t understand it and it has a fear of talking about it,” said Bates.
“This is a safe environment to talk about your feelings and have it validated. It is also an opportunity to honour who they were as a person and not how they died.”
Other resources available in the community are North Okanagan Hospice Society grief counselling and the Mental Illness Family Support Group.
For Durant, not only is compassion towards those struggling internally critical, but individuals in crisis must realize they aren’t alone.
“We need to be kind to ourselves.”
For more information about Safe Talk and ASIST, and special registration rates, call Chrystal at 250-542-3114 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org