You are not alone

Suicide is everyone’s loss and there are resources and help available.

Betty Bates

Special to The Morning Star

Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, ‘He fought so hard.’ And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong,” says Sally Brampton, an author and journalist out of the U.K.

The recent and tragic death by suicide of the much loved and talented comic genius, Robin Williams, has left many of us feeling a profound sense of loss and sadness.

It is almost inconceivable that someone who brought so much joy and laughter to all of us throughout his life and who was so open and candid about his battle with depression and alcohol would continue to struggle and eventually lose this battle.

Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end his/her life. Factors such as loss, addictions, trauma, depression and serious physical illness can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. Those who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering tremendous emotional pain. Those who act upon those thoughts see it as the only option for ending their pain.

Although some individuals will show no signs, 80 per cent of those who end their life by suicide may show some or all of the following warning signs:

•Suicide threats

•Statements indicating a desire to die

•Previous suicide attempts

•Sudden changes in behaviour (withdrawal, apathy, moodiness, risk taking)

•Depression (crying, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hopelessness)

• Final arrangements (such as giving away personal possessions)

Two factors that substantially increase the risk of acting on thoughts of suicide are having a plan and the use of substances.

Suicide is everyone’s loss and there are resources and help available.

As individuals and as a community we can help prevent further deaths by suicide through continued conversation, compassion, understanding, awareness and professional intervention and assistance.

If you or someone you love is feeling suicidal, seek help. See your family doctor, speak to a mental health professional,  call the Crisis Line at 1-888-353-2273 or call 1800SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Additional information is also available at www.heretohelp.bc.ca

If you are someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, know that you are not alone. There are resources within the community such as counselling and support groups.

The Healing After Suicide Loss support group for individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide is taking registrations for upcoming fall group. The group meets each Tuesday evening for eight weeks, starting Sept. 23.

To register or for more information, please contact Betty Bates at 250-275-8062 Ext. 4 or by email at betty.bates@cmha.bc.ca.

If you are someone who would like to help people in crisis, there are opportunities with the PIN Crisis Line. You will receive training in active listening, how to empower others, suicide risk assessment and provide appropriate resources when required. Call the program office at 250-545-8074.

– Betty Bates is with the Vernon branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.