EDITORIAL: Be a ‘gatekeeper’

EDITORIAL: Be a ‘gatekeeper’

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By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

You’ve just taken your daughter’s iPhone away for an inappropriate posting and she bursts into a fit of rage before dashing into her room.

“I’m going to kill myself!” she yells, before slamming the door and locking it.

With furrowed brows and troubled glances, you and your wife wonder if your child is serious about taking her own life over a cellphone.

You curse those devices and wish your children were born in a different era. Meanwhile, crazy thoughts are running through your head, and you can’t shake the image of seeing your daughter hanging from a light fixture in the morning.

That guilt would weigh you down for the rest of your life.

Suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The most at-risk group for suicide is men in their 40s and 50s, and men over the age of 80 have the highest rate.

While women are three times more likely to attempt suicide than men, males are three times more likely to die by their own hand.

Up to 90 per cent of people who take their own lives are believed to have substance abuse problems or a mental illness such as depression or anxiety.

Learn the signs: significant change in mood; sudden recklessness; withdrawal from family and friends; intense anxiety; and anger.

If someone you know shows any of these warning signs, it’s important to ask them directly, “Are you thinking of suicide?”

Asking someone about suicide will not give them the idea. In fact, talking about it reduces the risk that they may attempt.

Unfortunately, there is still a big stigma surrounding this topic. Police won’t talk about it. The coroner service won’t talk about it. If nobody talks about suicide, how are we going to prevent it?

After the suicide of Hollywood actor Robin Williams, much was said about dementia.

When Margot Kidder died, much was said about drug and alcohol abuse.

When celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain hung himself, much was said about depression.

Suicide is everyone’s business, and anyone can help prevent it by being a “gatekeeper.” This simply means being alert to the warning signs and providing support, either by listening or referring someone to get help.

Anyone who has suicidal thoughts should know they are not alone. Many others suffer the same inner turmoil, but help is available.

The BC Suicide helpline is 1-800-784-2433.

Those experiencing a crisis can call 1-888-353-2273. The Aboriginal Crisis Line is also toll free at 1-800-588-8717. And the Kids Help Phone is 1-800-668-6868.

Hit rewind

After a long talk with your daughter, she confirms she is not serious about killing herself. Your wife bursts into tears and hugs her and stresses how much the girl is loved.

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