Mental Health & Suicide Awareness for the
Mental Health Matters – Awareness Walk & Fundraiser
As a part of the Mental Health Matters campaign and raising awareness for mental health and suicide, we have asked community members to share their personal stories in hopes of reducing the stigma and encouraging others to talk more about mental health.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please download and review the guidelines below. Once you have read the guidelines, follow the instructions for submitting your story for review.
- For more information on suicide, see our FAQ Page by clicking here
- Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website here
- Visit the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health here
- Call the Alberta Health Services 24hr Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642
- Call the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 or visit their website here
- Lloydminster Interval Home 24hr Crisis & Support Line Call 780-875-0966 or Text 780-808-1777
July 2021 Feature
I am a survivor. I have survived many adverse situations in my life. Some of those situations were certainly a result of abuse and mental illness that was not diagnosed until I was in my 40s.
What does the face of a survivor look like? It looks like you, your sister, or your colleagues at work. What you or other people in your life may have in common are the dark isolating feelings of despair, anger and hopelessness, that you feel has no solution but death. Suicidal thoughts consume a person’s hope and desire to be mentally well, and leaves them struggling with their pain for years, months or weeks.
I have experienced stigma for having a mental illness. People who do not know me judge what I say or think. Some people withdraw from friendships with me after I reveal that I have been a patient in psychiatric wards.
I am not alone in my fight to be mentally well. My family knows I have escaped suicide more than once. People who work at the Libbie Young Centre know that I have experienced personal struggles and had to work towards wanting to be well. It took time to learn that suicide should never be an option for myself. They have helped me overcome adversity in my struggles.
Suicide and mental illness do not know borders, nor does it discriminate against certain types of people. If you find yourself face to face with a mental illness and feel suicidal, reach out for help to win your battle with mental illness. You are not alone.
June 2021 Feature
I was honored to be asked to share my story of our journey. I say “our” because it is not just mine, it is my children’s journey as well.
In 2012 my kids lost their dad to mental health issues. Yes, it was suicide. My family and I chose not to use this word as there are so many stigmas attached to it. When people hear that is how he passed, some are compassionate and many surprisingly are angry. We would often get comments like, “aren’t you mad?” or “that is so selfish”, I disagree.
My boys were young when this happened, 14, 11 and 5 years old. Even at these young ages they had heard the word “suicide”. I am sure I had an angel guiding me as I explained to my children what had happened. I told them “people pass away from 2 things, either your body is sick or injured like cancer or a car accident, or your brain is sick and you say and do things you wouldn’t normally do. Dad’s brain was sick. He had what was called a Mental Illness”. My boys were content with this explanation and it guided us on our journey as to how we grieve. My boys have always thought of their dad as being sick so we had no room for anger in our hearts. You wouldn’t be mad or call someone selfish for dying of a physical illness so why mental illness?
This then started a snowball effect in mine and my kids own mental health. I immediately got my boys and I into therapy. We had amazing support from amazing people to get through this. Despite all of the therapy and support from loved ones, mental health issues are still a part of us. My oldest sons suffered from depression and anxiety that began after this loss. My youngest at the very little age of five, suffered from severe separation anxiety. I could not leave the room, the house or even go to bed at night without explaining to him where I was and that I would come back and we would all be safe.
It has almost been 9 years, on our journey my boys have openly talked to their friends. Even all throughout high school, rugby and hockey, they have attended therapy and shared how it has helped them and they are not ashamed of it. As life often goes, more tragic loss came our way and because therapy and support for mental health was the norm for my boys at a very young age, they knew how to ask for help when they’ve needed it. I am so proud of my boys and what all they have gone through and how hard they have fought to keep their mental health, healthy.
I know we make people uncomfortable talking about it as openly as we do. I know I make people uncomfortable with my Facebook posts. Many people still do not want to talk about it at all. We need to work together to break this stigma and keep the conversation going. We need to educate our young people that this is NOTHING to be ashamed of, and there is a way to make it through tough times.
My children and I continue to talk no matter what. We will not talk the talk without walking the walk.