Suicide Matters

Article by:  Amy Block

Sometimes people who suffer from depression lose the will to live. It’s time we begin to explore ways in which we, as a Gabriola community, can help others get through those times when loneliness, destitution and helplessness overwhelm.

Research, as quoted by Bonnie Bernard, a specialist in resiliency, tells us clearly that

Resilience is a process of connectedness of linking to people, to interests, and ultimately to life itself.

So how can we as a community do better at helping each other make and maintain connectedness and the will to live?

A member of our community recently committed suicide. A group of people gathered together at the Commons and shared grief and emotional responses to the tragedy.

Involved in the group discussion, I was amazed at the profundity of the sharing exchange.

One participant stated,

“When I’m feeling down and depressed I don’t like asking for help. I know I need to get better at that. There are others who are there for me, and that’s exactly what I need. I know, ideally, that I’m not alone and yet, I’m ashamed. I don’t want to be needy and I don’t want to ‘dump’ on others.”

Someone else said,

“I find it is really simple. One time someone listened to me. He didn’t try to ‘fix’ my situation. All he said was, “I’m so sorry.” That was so healing for me. I was just heard. That was important.”

Margaret Wheatley, a writer and consultant in Organizational Behaviour says,

“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.”

Bonnie Benard writes that

“we can walk around trouble if there is some place to walk to and someone to walk with.”

There are many of us here on Gabriola who understand the need for connectedness. We are everywhere…your next door neighbours, friends and family. We are here in the village and in the library. We’re in your friendship circles, members of your family, and participants in community organizations. There can always be someone who will listen.

Let’s Talk – it gets better.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, here are some important numbers to note:

  • 911 – First responders in a crisis situation.
  • PHC Circle of Care: 250-247-7311
    Low or no-cost counselling for those in need.
  • Your own family doctor.
  • Walk-In Clinic at Brooks Landing Mall: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:15 p.m.
  • Island Health Mental Health and Addictions Clinic, Nanaimo: 250-739-5710.
  • Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888
    Telephone support, information and referrals 24 hrs. 7 days a week.
  • Online Crisis Chat for all ages
    6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
  • Youth Crisis Line: 1-800-668-6868.
  • Help Line for Children: 250-310-1234.

Suicide Matters

Steve’s path took him from a strong spiritual background to one where he just couldn’t find comfort any longer in God. He describes a period in his life when he felt most alone, helpless and lost.

When I lost everything, my place became ripped from underneath me. Everything happened at once. I lost it all. My dad passed and my mom went shortly after that. My partner left me almost at the same time. At that point I didn’t feel alive anyway. I had nothing to live for anymore.

I got angry and belligerent and acted badly. Nothing mattered. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. I wanted to take control of my own life. I spent about a year living on the street. It was really bad. I prayed to go “home.”

Then, after a time immersed in a drug-induced numbing, Steve began to recognize that the answers to a better life were already within him. No longer seeking excuses from his outside world, he began to search within.

I started to ask the right questions: “Why did she actually leave me?” “What am I doing to cause these troubles?” “What can I do to change?”

I changed the way I look at the world. I knew that the answers were already inside of me. I started to take responsibility for my own behaviours.

Steve now attends regular AA meetings and makes sure to be involved in reaching out to others who need support.

I have so much knowledge and experience to share with others. I don’t want young people to go through the same things that I went through. I can be helpful by staying creative and seeking ways of breaking through roadblocks when they arise.

I’m here for a long time to come. I have learned that it’s definitely not my time to go “home.” I have a strong spiritual connection now and engage with others. I wish I’d been on this track throughout my life, but I suppose I’ve had to learn it the hard way.

Like Steve…let’s all just keep talking… it does get better.

Suicide Matters

Suicide Matters - Let s talk, it gets better
Suicide Matters – Let’s talk, it gets better

By Elisabeth Gillies, 

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a bad night.” 

~ Friedrich Nietzsche,
Beyond Good and Evil 

Suicide is an option. Allow it to be that. But as with any matter in life, it is prudent to give equal attention to more than one option.

As a young, recently hired assistant in a busy city of Edinburgh psychology department, I was given the task of cataloguing a personal library of one of the psychologists. The collection was to be donated to the teaching hospital. Earlier in the week the psychologist had opted out of her profession and out of her life. While I cannot recall the details of her suicide and had never met her in person, I recall a strong sense of empathy, felt simply by handling each one of her books. Continue reading Suicide Matters

Let’s Talk, it gets better – March

Suicide Matters - Let s talk, it gets better March’s article – reprinted with permission from the Gabriola Sounder

“I know what it feels like to want to die. For me, it’s devastating to think that problems spiral out of control, that the best option is to kill myself. There are no other options. It wouldn’t make a difference anyway.”

Though some of us have a hard time imagining what it feels like to give up, for Seth (not his real name), it is a familiar feeling. Seth is presently a strong, independent man. At 29 years old, he lives with his new partner on Gabriola and thrives on the positive energy he absorbs here on the island. It wasn’t always like that for him though.

“My family life didn’t help me. I was picked on as a kid and I was never allowed to talk about my feelings. I had constant fear and an ongoing sense of loss. I always wanted to get away from it. In my worst moments, there seemed to be no other outlet than suicide. I never seemed to learn about other choices.

“My mom was there for me. We talked about things when events in my life made it difficult for me to go on. For me, talking helps a lot. I let people know how I feel and I ask them to talk to me. I realize now that many people feel sad. I can be helpful to them too.

“I love… video games, talking to others. On-line relationships help me get close to people faster. We talk about serious things.

“I realize, now, there really isn’t anything wrong with me. Now when I get depressed, I just talk to people I trust and those I know really care.”

Seth sounds like any of us. We all feel sad sometimes. We all need someone to talk to, and activities that make us happy. There are so many people on Gabriola who are caring, loving individuals. If you want to talk… there’s always someone who can listen!

In the meantime, if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, here are some important phone numbers to note:

Crisis Contact Info

Let’s Talk – it gets better.

Lets Talk, it gets better – February

Suicide Matters - Let s talk, it gets better

February’s article – by Joood Heather
reprinted with permission from the Gabriola Sounder

Over the last year, we on Gabriola have lost three of our members to suicide: three precious human beings with parents, partners, children, siblings, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.

As losses go, suicide is staggeringly painful to the people left behind, who are additionally burdened by stigma, often making it more difficult for them to openly grieve and heal. What makes it even harder to bear, for many of us, is the knowledge that suicide, the deadly last symptom of a treatable illness, is usually preventable.

With this in mind, some people in this community have come together to see what we can do to make suicide more preventable on Gabriola, and to find ways to enable help to more easily reach people who may be contemplating this permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Under the aegis of People For a Healthy Community (PHC) this group will be taking some actions in the next few months to promote understanding of mental illnesses and to lessen the stigma surrounding them.

As a part of this effort, Sarah Holmes, Publisher of the Gabriola Sounder, is partnering with PHC, and will be printing a series of articles on this topic, written by different community members.

Some articles will be educational, and some anecdotal. We hope that you will read them and find them informative and useful.

We trust as well, that they will expand your awareness of the barriers that people face in accepting help, accessing treatment, and finding support. We believe that the more people know and understand these issues, the more likely it is that people in despair can find the path back to health and happiness.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, here are some important numbers to note:

Crisis Contact Info

Lets Talk, it gets better