By Janice Walker Ramsay
The tragic suicide of my brother almost seven years ago has forever changed me. I set out to research all I could about this serious public health problem.
The grief of those bereaved by suicide requires compassion, understanding and support to help minimize its impact. Suicide is most often the result of pain, hopelessness and despair. It is about escape.
Someone who thinks seriously about suicide is experiencing pain that is so crushing, they feel that only death will stop it. It is almost always preventable through caring, compassion, commitment and community.
Every year in Canada, an average of 3,750 people die by suicide and as many as 1,000,000 globally. Many more make nonfatal attempts.
For too long, discussion of suicide has involved secrecy, stigma and taboo. Through our silence, and fueled by our fears and ignorance, much suffering has resulted.
We must confront the silence and we must have the courage to stand up to stigma, to educate ourselves and to move into action and to comfort the suffering.
Those at risk for suicide experience overwhelming emotional pain. They want and need our help in reducing the pain so that they can go on to lead productive, fulfilling lives.
Tragically, when someone dies by suicide the pain is not gone, it is merely transferred to family, friends and community. I also learned that, as advanced as we are as a society, we do not have a Canadian national suicide prevention strategy. Many other countries do, yet we do not.
Canada has a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise to approach suicide as a public health issue and as a preventable problem. Realistic opportunities exist for saving many lives. We are all responsible and this is our problem.
Everyone can do his part. Learn the facts. Get involved. Talk about suicide.
Sept. 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day and an opportunity for all sectors of the community to join with the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization to focus public attention on the unacceptable burden and costs of suicidal behaviours with activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities.
Their website is www.iasp.info/wspd. At 8 p.m. on Sept.10, I placed three candles near a window in memory of my beautiful brother, my fun-loving nephew and my adorable aunt.
Worldwide, many candles cast a light into the darkness. I ask each and every one of you who has lost a loved one to suicide to help end the silence and prevent others from experiencing such loss.
In conclusion, I would like to quote the following by Margaret Mead: “Why would a small group of dedicated individuals believe that by working together we can change the world? Because, throughout history, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Janice Walker Ramsay lives in McGregor
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