World Wide Suicide Prevention Day should mean a lot to a lot more people. 

For those who know or have lost a loved one to suicide, Sept. 10 marked a reminder of the lives shortened by overwhelming challenges to those individuals who either felt there was no other way to address life’s ugliest issues or was just not able to overcome a mental illness battle. 

For those people who are left behind, they should not feel any guilt. Feel saddened for the loss, but the 

However, World Suicide Prevention Day is equally important for those who know nothing about suicide. Perhaps they can be educated or aware of its root causes; the affects it has on those around those who take their own life or perhaps even how to maybe prevent the person’s suicidal thoughts. 

Prevention based on one’s ability on talking about it. Not being afraid to talk about it with no judgment is something which involves overcoming the stigma of mental health awareness and not talking about a topic so difficult as suicide. 

It may surprise those who don’t want to talk about suicide may know someone who at least thought about it. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada who derived statistics from Statistics Canada Vital Statistics Database, the Canadian Institute of Health Information Discharge Abstract Database, and Statistics Canada Canadian Community Health Survey [2016]: 11.8% of those Canadian surveyed reported of thoughts of suicide in their lifetime; 4.0% made suicide plans and 3.1% having made an actual attempt. Death rates among males is much higher than females in all age groups. It is especially true in the two highest rates of suicide for both the 40-49 and 50-59 year-old categories (nearly 25 per 100,000 people) for men and approximately a third of that in both of these categories for women. The 45-59 year-old age group account for 1/3 of all suicides in Canada.

11 people each day.

4,000 per year.

Unbelievable. 

The Medicine Hat Counselling Collective hosted a Silent Vigil Lantern Labyrinth in Riverside Veterans Memorial Park at dusk on Sept. 10 and for good reason: Medicine Hat has lost a number of people within the last 30 days to suicide. Family and friends as well as others who have been affected by suicide turned out to listen and experience a deeply moving and cathartic experience with fellowship, presentations from numerous religious, spiritual and therapeutic people all wanting to share and help. 

If one thing other than the healing came out, it was a harsh realization. It can happen in your community. It can happen to someone you know. 

Those on the outside who see people who are thinking suicide is just about attention or sympathy seeking individuals. Perhaps this just media hype or looking for something to cover. 

Or worse yet, suicide isn’t something you talk about. If you don’t get that idea in your head, you won’t be thinking of it. 

While Sept. 10 was an important reminder, that’s all it is, a reminder. Check in on your friends, your loved ones, or even those strangers who are obviously struggling the other 364 days until you need to be reminded again in 2021. Stop the stigma. Talk about it. 

If you are thinking about suicide, please call 911 or if you need information or need to find out where someone is available to help: call Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 or for more information, contact Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention www.suicideprevention.ca/need-help. There is also ahs.ca/preventing suicide

As well, for young people, there is Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 and one can text CONNECT to 686868 

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