Just prior to the end of 2014, a lady I know lost her son to suicide. He was not quite nineteen years old.
Although we had never met in person, we have spoken numerous times via social media and I have also seen her often on television. As a result I feel that I know her reasonably well, although not as a personal friend. In this case also it turns out that I work with the police officers who responded to her son’s passing.
Over the years, this is the fourth time that I have been close, in some fashion, to the suicide of a young person. They have all been males, under the age of twenty-two.
One was the son of a lady that I worked with while in the military. Another was the son of one of my dearest friends, a lady who has spent her life helping people. The third was a close friend, like a brother, of a lady that I lived with for a few years.
These four events were, not surprisingly, remarkably similar in many ways. However, there is one area in which the latest event is distinctively different.
The first three suicides were dealt with quietly so as to draw no undue attention, “kept under wraps” so to speak.
Not so with this latest suicide. The approach is exactly opposite. This young lad’s mother and father (they were divorced and had both remarried), have decided that it is long past time to put these occurrences front and centre, to have them recognized as a mental health issue and treated as such.
To this end, she has been appearing on radio talk shows, television news, and has had articles about her, and her son, in quite a number of newspapers. She has a very strong social media following and is using that to spread the word as well. It is not an easy road she has chosen to follow, however she strongly feels it to be necessary and the right thing to do. I also believe that what she is doing is her way of helping to cope with the aspects of losing her son.
Suicide is a disease, it inflicts a terrible toll on the family and friends of those who die. According to a fact sheet posted in October 2011 by CTV News, suicide accounts for 24% of deaths among 15-24 year old Canadians and is the second leading cause of death for those between 10 and 24.
I consider this woman to be brave, for confronting the pain of her loss head on, and courageous, as she strives to create greater recognition of suicide as a serious form of mental illness. I know how outspoken and stubborn she can be, and I both admire and applaud what she is doing. It is my hope that she will succeed in not only creating a much greater awareness, but achieving some progress in dealing with this disease. This blog post is part of my way to support her and to help this process along.
Over 3500 Canadians will die as a result of suicide this year. Don’t you think that it’s about time that we all did something about it!