In room of police officers today I was given the privilege of sharing my experience with suicide. It is hard to share and it is hard to hear but it brings flesh and bone to a subject which most people would just rather ignore. It also gives me some credibility as a trainer and makes what I’m saying more believable and more impactful.
I took my first suicide intervention training 15 years ago less than six months after the death of my son. His suffering drove me to want to prevent as many other mothers from such horror as I could and led me down a path of training, intervention and support for those living with mental illness and for those bereaved by suicide.
There were two very important things we talked about today which everyone should know about suicide intervention:
- Say the word. Don’t ask someone if they are going to hurt themselves. They are looking to end the hurt. Ask them if they are suicidal or contemplating suicide. If they are not they will look at you like you have two heads and say. “NO”.
- Look after yourself too. When we support other people who are living with suicidal ideation or have had to experience the aftermath of suicide we carry a huge burden and it needs to be lightened with care and compassion. That compassion needs to be extended to yourself as well as the people you support.
This week is mental health awareness week in Canada. Take the time to learn something new and if you would like to find out about how to deal with suicide look for Living Works, a Canadian company who are the experts in suicide intervention. Your Mental Health Association or your local Health Departments will also have lots of information.