What do you do when someone under the age of 13 asks you for a Suicide Hotline they can call when they need to? When they need to; not if, not just in case, but for those times when they feel suicidal. Well, if you’re like me, in the calmest voice you can muster while also trying to keep your face as neutral as possible, you offer her a Wallet Card created by the CYMHSU Local Action Team that has a list of local and regional resources for mental health and substance use challenges, highlight the suicide hotline, and help them to feel that they’re not alone … Then you run back home and craft an urgent email to your entire committee screaming “SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE!”
This experience was an eye opener for me. Since 2015 I have been working with the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Local Action Team and nothing has struck me so profoundly as this one moment. So many things were going through my head, but most profoundly ringing out was “this person can’t be the only one who feels this way.”
As I began speaking to the Local Action Team about resources in our community, one of the things I started to notice is that I have yet to find a person who hasn’t in some way been touched by suicide in one way or another. Whether it be the death of a colleague, friend, sibling, parent, child, neighbour, teacher, or their own thoughts or attempts; everyone has been touched by suicide. Knowing this, we now need to take action. Here are our first steps to try to be there for each other.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day #wspd. There are many ways that people are marking this day around the world. In Revelstoke, on September 10 at 8 p.m., we are asking the community to light a candle, lantern, bike light, strobe light, or whatever you have around the house that glows and place it in your window. This will be a sign of hope, solidarity, love, compassion, remembrance, gratitude, and thoughtfulness, but mostly a gesture of love and kindness. If you don’t feel like being alone, there will be a voluntary, informal gathering at the gazebo in Grizzly Plaza on September 10 at 8 p.m. Here you can chat, share stories of loved ones, and discuss gratitude for the lives we still hold.
Training will also be offered throughout September and October. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) provides two levels of training: safeTALK and ASIST. SafeTALK will take place on Tuesday, September 26 in the morning, location TBD. This is a half-day training opportunity to learn the signs that someone may be having suicidal thoughts as well as where and when to direct them to other resources. ASIST will be offered in October and is a two-day training for service providers to help them assess risk and make safety plans. Email Stacie Byrne today to sign up firstname.lastname@example.org
Local resources include: Child and Youth Mental Health at the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Contact Inamarie Oppermann at Inamarie.Oppermann@gov.bc.ca, 210 Garden Ave., Revelstoke, BC. 1-250-837-7612 and Community Connections 314 Second Street E, Revelstoke, BC. 250-837-2920
You’re not alone. Talk to those around you and ask for help.