I had an excellent week (I lost 2.2 pounds and I’m feeling great!) but today I wanted to talk about something completely different. Though not directly tied to weight loss, I think it is an important message to share.
Today (September 10th) is World Suicide Prevention Day.
According to the press release that I read, Suicide is the leading cause of injury related fatality in Canada. In 2009 alone, there were about 100,000 years of potential life lost to Canadians under the age of 75 as a result of suicides, and it is estimated that well over 3,000,000 Canadians have been touched by suicide in some way. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death.
I know, personally, I have been touched by suicide. When I was in university I had a great friend named Mark. He was fun and quirky and always seemed to be a really positive guy. As the years progressed, however, he started to exhibit some bizarre behaviour (he would disappear for days — once I found him, by chance, in the Student Centre when he’d been gone for 2 days and it turned out he had just been sitting there the whole time!). As someone in my early 20s, I didn’t understand what was going on and just thought he was a bit eccentric (if you haven’t noticed by now, I am a bit eccentric myself so it wasn’t a big thing to me because he always had an explanation for his behaviour once he’d returned). In my final year of university, Mark had already been accepted into a post-graduate program and had left to attend another school. I still remember the last time I saw him — he seemed so excited and happy – he appeared to be on top of the world.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. That fall, I received a message that Mark had disappeared again from school. They eventually found him and tried to get him help, but it was too late. Mark killed himself. Even now, almost 20 years later, as I am sharing his story I am finding myself trying to write with blurred vision because it still saddens me so much.
Mark was an amazing guy – he was smart and funny and I knew he could achieve just about anything if he set his mind to it. He was also a great friend and I have so many funny memories of him. The one that always sticks in my mind was the fact that Mark didn’t know who the Barbapapas were because he had never watched TV Ontario as a kid. I went home to the Public Library (remember…it was the early 90s, long before Youtube!) and borrowed books and videos to show him. We sat and watched them together and laughed so much — it’s my favourite memory of Mark because he seemed so happy.
In many ways, I feel like I let him down because I didn’t understand. While I know now that there are things I may have been able to do to help (like call his parents – though I didn’t know them), I realize there were many people working behind the scenes to try and help. I also realize that what I know as a 40-year-old includes so many things my 20-year-old self didn’t know.
The point I am trying to make is that today is not just a day to reflect, but also a day to think about action.
As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, communities across Canada will be gathering to remember family and friends who died when despair overcame hope, and to support those who grieve, help those who struggle with living and renew a commitment to building a compassionate and caring society. Scheduled events across the country include memorial walks and runs, remembrance gatherings, candle light vigils, and informational workshops.
As well, there are resources available to help that are being highlighted today. Resources that contribute to suicide prevention by helping people believe in the possibility of building a life of dignity, purpose, and hope are increasingly being made available. These include a series of new resources produced by CASP (Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention) in partnership with Klinic Community Centre in Winnipeg (“Hope and Healing at Work” and “Hope and Healing at Home”) which will be launched on September 10th. These and other resources are available on CASP’s website www.suicideprevention.ca.
I truly believe that knowledge is power. While I might not be able to help Mark, I think that supporting suicide prevention and learning as much as I can could help me to help someone in the future. I hope you will consider doing the same.
*I received no compensation of any type. I simply wanted to share this information with my readers.*