September 10 is World Suicide Prevetion Day (WSPD), which was first launched on September 10 in 2003. Since that day, the tenth of September has been designated as a way to raise awareness and focus attention on this global issue.
The hope of events held on this day and recognizing this day each year is to give people a place to have difficult conversations and to share their stories if their lives have been impacted by suicide.
This conversation hits very close for Regan Turner, who lost her brother Adam to suicide seven years ago. Earlier this year, she came together with friends in the first annual "Do Better" softball tournament to honour his memory and raise funds for the Centre for Suicide Prevention. That tournament raised $4,778, which far exceeded Regan's expectations.
Regan does understand the need to have a day focused on awareness, but would like to see more.
"It's something that's close to my heart and I wish that it was just more than one day. It's great that we have a day that's allocated for it, but it's something I think that should be talked about more than just once a year. There are so many people out there that need help and supports and that information of where to go through to get that help and support."
Regan's brother was 33 when he passed away, and leading up to today they were discussing the stigma around mental health, especially with men and how they are expected to just be strong.
"We had a conversation about how men are perceived to be tough and have no emotions and not to show those emotions or it makes them look weak, and if we're not educating and sharing that it's ok to cry, to ask for help and ask for support then it's just bottled up."
Regan went on to say that people need to be more open to this conversation and not stop just because the one day of awareness is over. She feels there are so many days for different things throughout the year that they can lost in the day to day of life.
"I do think that we are starting to see some change and the more people talk about it, I mean in the past seven years more people are willing to talk about it, when my brother first committed suicide seven years ago. Nobody wanted to talk about it, it's perceived as like, you know, he took his life and it was kind of weakness for him."
Regan expressed that she could not imagine the darkness her brother must have been feeling to get to the place where he felt he had no other choice, and she will keep telling his story and honouring his memory to continue the conversation and end the stigma.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) will be hosting a virtual event with speakers who will be sharing their stories, with a focus on suicide in the workplace. Registration for this is free and closes on September 9th at 3 pm MST.
Across Canada there is help through many crisis lines and assistance programs that can provide support. However, if it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.
Crisis lines in Canada include the below:
- Talk Suicide Canada provides toll-free calling at any time, or text support from 4 pm – 12 am ET.
- Kid’s Help Phone provides support to youth in Canada.
- Hope for Wellness Help Line provides support for Indigenous people across Canada.
Programs and Resources Available for Defence Team Members:
- The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program (CFMAP) are here to help public service employees and CAF personnel, families, and veterans cope with professional or personal challenges that may impact their health and well-being.
The CRTC says it will launch a new emergency crisis number for people in need of immediate mental health or suicide prevention support.
It says starting at the end of November 2023, Canadians will be able to call 988 to be connected to a mental health crisis or suicide prevention service, free of charge.
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