World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10. It started in 2002. In 2017, True Experience, with the help of some community members coordinated the first event to recognize the day in Haldimand County. “Igniting Hope” was held in Dunnville with over 150 people present.
Wearing bright yellow shirts, people walked through the streets of Dunnville to raise awareness about suicide. Residents came out of their homes and waved or gave a thumbs up. Others asked what was going on. Following the walk, everyone gathered in Central Park to listen to people share their personal stories about how losing someone to suicide impacted their lives. There was a BBQ and an opportunity for everyone to connect. The evening ended with a candle lighting to commemorate those that have taken their lives.
The event was not somber as one might expect. It was uplifting, supportive and full of compassion.
Pictures from the event - Click to enlarge
The Impact of Suicide
Today in Canada approximately 11 people will end their lives by suicide. In addition, approximately 210 others will attempt to end their lives by suicide today. For each death by suicide, it has been estimated that the lives of 7-10 bereaved ‘Survivors” are profoundly affected. This means that today in Canada 77-110 people will become newly bereaved by suicide.
To be certain, suicide is a critical public health issue in Canada. In Canada suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death, with rates increasing over the past 60 years. In 2012, suicide is ranked as the 9th leading cause of death in Canada.
According to Statistics Canada there were 3,926 suicides in the year 2012. Males were three times more likely to die by suicide than females. This much higher rate of suicide for men compared to women has been a trend consistent over time in Canada. Although men are more likely to die by suicide, females are 3-4 times more likely to attempt to end their lives. In addition, women are hospitalized 1.5 times more often than males for suicide related behaviors. This discrepancy may be due to the fact that females tend to use less immediately lethal methods.
Based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, 14.7% of Canadians have thought about suicide and 3.5% have attempted suicide in their lifetime.
Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. Behind these statistics are the individual stories of those who have, for many different reasons, questioned the value of their own lives.
Each one of these individuals is part of a community. Some may be well linked in to this community, and have a network of family, friends and work colleagues or school mates. Others may be less well connected, and some may be quite isolated. Regardless of the circumstances, communities have an important role to play in supporting those who are vulnerable.
People who have lived through a suicide attempt have much to teach us about how the words and actions of others are important. They often talk movingly about reaching the point where they could see no alternative but to take their own life, and about the days, hours and minutes leading up to this. They often describe realizing that they did not want to die but instead wanted someone to intervene and stop them. Many say that they actively sought someone who would sense their despair and ask them whether they were okay.
Sometimes they say that they made a pact with themselves that if someone did ask if they were okay, they would tell them everything and allow them to intervene. Sadly, they often reflect that no one asked.
The individuals telling these stories are inspirational. Many of them recount reaching the point where they did try to take their own lives, and tell about coming through it. Many of them are now working as advocates for suicide prevention. Almost universally, they say that if someone had taken a minute, the trajectory that they were on could have been interrupted.
Life is precious and sometimes precarious. Taking a minute to reach out to someone – a complete stranger or close family member or friend – can change the course of their life.
People are often reluctant to intervene, even if they are quite concerned about someone. There are many reasons for this, not least that they fear they will not know what to say. It is important to remember, however, that there is no hard and fast formula. Individuals who have come through an episode of severe suicidal thinking often say that they were not looking for specific advice, but that compassion and empathy from others helped to turn things around for them and point them towards recovery.
Another factor that deters people from starting the conversation is that they worry that they may make the situation worse. Again, this hesitation is understandable; broaching the topic of suicide is difficult and there is a myth that talking about suicide with someone can put the idea into their head or trigger the act.
The evidence suggests that this is not the case. Being caring and listening with a non-judgmental ear are far more likely to reduce distress than exacerbate it.
Suicide Around The World
- Every year, almost one million people die from suicide; a “global” mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. Worldwide, suicide ranks among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15 – 44 years. Suicide accounts for more loss of life in the world than the total number of deaths from war, acts of terrorism and homicide combined
- In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group; these figures do not include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide.
- Suicide worldwide is estimated to represent 1.8% of the total global burden of disease in 1998, and 2.4% in countries with market and former socialist economies in 2020.
- Although traditionally suicide rates have been highest among the male elderly, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of countries, in both developed and developing countries.
True Experience would like to thank the following sponsors and supporters of the “Igniting Hope – World Suicide Prevention Day Event” held in Dunnville on September 10, 2017.
Without their generosity, hosting an event of this magnitude
would have been impossible.
Rotary Club of Dunnville
Julia’s Bistro, Dunnville
True Experience Supportive Housing & Community Work Program, Dunnville
Giant Tiger, Dunnville
Erie Mutual Fire Insurance, Dunnville – Staff and Management
The Pub Downtown, Dunnville
Tewsley Auto Parts, Dunnville
Dr. E. Blake, Dunnville
Ann Culp Photography, Dunnville
Suicide Prevention Network c/o Haldimand Norfolk REACH
Grand River Pharmasave, Dunnville
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 142, Dunnville
Tyler Clark, British Columbia
Hank’s Auto Body, Dunnville
Joanna Brzozowska and Lois Crysler, Dunnville
Jane Dunham, Dunnville
Pat Lymburner, Dunnville
Community Addictions and Mental Health Services, Townsend
D & A Creatives, Binbrook
The Grand 92.9 FM
Cable 14, Hamilton
First Responders from Lowbanks Station 7