Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, which is the culmination of National Suicide Prevention Week in Canada. The good folks on the Wellness team at $Dayjob in our People and Culture (read: HR) department have prepared an infographic about the information and resources that they’re going to share this week. On Thursday, we’re going to learn the signs. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great. I’m superduper thankful that my workplace even has a Wellness team that does this for us, and yes, we should definitely know the signs so that if we see them, we can reach out a hand to help someone find their way out of the dark place they’re in.
A few years ago, my team had a co-op from a local high school. He was the same age as my son, and he sat beside me. From September until the end of January, he spent the morning with us. His mom told him to wear a collared shirt to our workplace, so he did. We talked about hockey and music and pets, and he was a good, respectful, soulful kid. He went to church and played guitar in their faith community. He participated in our social events – he even dressed up for Halloween to participate in the Great Halloween $Dayjob Parade.
I would never have guessed that just few months after he finished his term with us, he was going to commit suicide. Maybe at that point, he didn’t know either. If there were signs, I didn’t notice. I worked with hundreds of kids in the Cambridge army cadet corps over the years, and there are some that you just know are troubled. This particular kid never even moved the needle on the risk gauge for me, and I spend time every year thinking about whether I missed something.
In the aftermath, as my work team gathered to raise a glass to our lost former teammate (who wasn’t yet old enough to raise a glass himself). One of my team members said “We’ve all had moments where we looked at a bathtub of water and thought hard”. There but for the grace of God, indeed.
Now, my son is in the Canadian Armed Forces – a place that has a suicide rate orders of magnitude higher than the general population. So do I want him and his flight and squadron mates and all his colleagues to know the signs so that they can help each other – you bet I do.
So yeah. I know it’s maybe uncomfortable. I know it’s hard. Mental Health stigma always is, and the extra layer of Covid isolation isn’t helping. So maybe light a candle tonight to show your support for suicide prevention, to remember someone your community has lost , or to show that you support survivors.
Be safe, friends. And if you need help, please seek it.
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
Know the Signs : Suicide is preventable.org