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Suicide – Reach Out

It’s the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day 2015. I’ve lost three family members to suicide – one of whom had been sexually abused as a child – so I know how horrible it feels to loose a loved one by suicide. I want people to know that they are not alone. That there are people who understand and who will help you and that YES – you just need to hold on..one more moment…

I myself have sat perched on the edge, ready to end the nothingness that takes over when the feelings I have are too much to handle. The depth of sadness, shame, unrelenting panic attacks and complete hopelessness weigh me down to the point where I no longer feel. That complete absence of feeling is just as horrible as the days filled with pain. That moment of nothingness finds it’s way back to fear. Fear that I have gone to that place. Again. And again. And again. It seduces me.

I’m one of the lucky ones. There’s always been just the smallest flicker of a spark deep inside that’s kept me from succumbing to the darkness that I’ve sometimes craved. Perhaps some of it is having experienced first-hand the utter devastation of those left behind that has kept me hanging on. Hang on…one moment, one step, another moment…until the light shines again. Which it does. It always does. It ALWAYS does.

I know how it feels to think you are the only person who feels this way. I know how lonely that place is. I know how it feels to be misunderstood – to be shunned and bullied because you are ‘different’. I know how it feels to have embarrassing and false lies spread. I know how it feels to have to ‘act’ your way through a day…a week…a month… To go to work and have to use every ounce of strength to appear ‘normal’…to go to your car at lunchtime and sit there crying your eyes out – pounding on the seat, screaming into loud music…anything to get the ‘frantic’ out. I know what it’s like to feel dead inside. To do just about anything to FEEL something and then to numb yourself again because the feelings are just to painful.

It is this intimate knowledge that compels me to do this work. When children are sexually abused and do not get help, or do not tell, or tell and are not believed – the possibility of suicide is a very real consequence of that abuse. (Childhood sexual abuse is a strong predictor of suicide in adolescence according to this study published in May 2013.)

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Let’s each of us consider what we can do to help our fellow (wo)man to feel healthy, whole and accepted. Let’s consider how we might be able to protect children from sexual abuse and save them from the devastating consequences. Let’s consider how we react to another’s sadness or change in behaviour in the workplace. Will we stand by and judge without trying to understand what may be the cause? Or will we act with compassion? Will we lend a helping hand or will we assume they have the help they need? Is someone you know mourning the loss of a loved one to suicide? Honour the person who has died. They are more – so much more – than the manner in which they died.

Canada’s theme this year is ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives’. We encourage you to take some time and look at the Mental Health Commission of Canada website and learn more about the issue of suicide including a toolkit for those who are have lost a loved one to suicide.

You are NOT alone.

If you are in crisis – PLEASE call the nearest Distress/Crisis Centre. If you are in an emergency situation call 911.

Post written by Cynthia Bland, Founder of Voice Found.