Say the Word Suicide

Talking_SuicideTeaching people about suicide intervention is one of the hardest things I do but it is also one of the most important things I do.

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.


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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2 Responses to Say the Word Suicide

  1. It is a great job you are doing Peggy and I admire you for it. When I was a teenager, a suicide in the extended family was never mentioned because they tried to keep it from us. Not being able to talk about it is like slow torture….

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