What I wish I had known 3 years ago. September is Suicide Awareness Month.
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Today would have been my 23rd Wedding Anniversary. The irony is that tomorrow is the 1st of September. The beginning of Suicide Awareness Month; dedicated to making us aware of the dangers, the signs,the triggers and statistics that plague our communities. Dangers and signs I was sadly completely unaware of when I needed to be. Just shy of three years after my husband's death, I am so much better informed (Sadly) and I am proud to support the Calgary Centre for Suicide Prevention through our business.
Buddy Up for men's suicide prevention is a new initiative being launched tomorrow. The campaign was designed for men by men. (Men die by suicide more than women - 3 times more often) encouraging them to have REAL conversations with their buddies and to support them if they are struggling with thoughts of suicide. I urge everyone to learn more about how you can help a man in your life by visiting www.buddyup.ca
The loss of my husband was cataclismic. The final months of his life were a rollercoaster to hell. Every Single red flag was staring me straight in the eye. I missed every single one of them. My failure to see the danger signs where I just saw anger and pain, was because suicide never occurred to me even for a nanosecond. My ignorance wasn't a lack of empathy or kindness... it was simply that I was literally ingnorant of the facts or the trends or the statistics, especially those in Men; and in Men of my husband's age group. I found out that David ticked every red flag box when I finally sought counselling to deal with my own mental health issues after his death.
As a society, we must get better at reaching out to men. There are Programs available for men by men, and we need to encourage our men to seek out these resources not just to help themselves, but to be of help to other men who might be in need of support:
Tough Enough to Talk About It This is a program for men working in trades, industry, and agriculture. The program features males who have dealt with stress, depression, suicidal behaviours, or loss from suicide.
Man Therapy Man Therapy is an interactive website that encourages men to address their mental health and to seek help for themselves if necessary. Men can interact with a therapist, do a self-assessment, and get mental health tips. The website refers users to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA) and/or a list of professional mental health providers.
DUDES Clubs DUDES Clubs are spaces that facilitate a participant-led community for men’s wellness, which prioritize supportive relationships, engagement in health care, and an Indigenous world view.
HeadsUp Guys This is a website with information and resources to encourage help seeking among men at risk for depression and suicide.
Men’s sheds Men’s sheds are community-based organizations that provide a safe and friendly environment for men to learn practical skills, develop new interests, work on meaningful projects (e.g., carpentry, restoring bicycles for a local school, gardening, art), connect with other men, and talk about their problems. Some Men’s Sheds incorporate visits from health care professionals and access to men’s health literature.
When I threw all my energy into launching the business he wanted to start, it was essential to me that I had an anchor. I needed something to give me a purpose other than to make a new life for myself and my daughter. I didn't want his death to be his final, tragic act. He was better than that. I wanted to create something which could in some way benefit those of us left behind. That's why Souperspudz will advocate in anyway we know how, to raise awareness for not just the resources available to spread the word about Suicide Prevention; but also to help change society's reactions to what has become such a taboo subject. Even now, people ask me if I am comfortable discussing how we arrived at this junction in our lives, as if Dave's death is something I would perhaps rather not discuss. I am PROUD to talk about it, for several reasons. Dave's end of life saved two others through organ donation; (another advocacy drum I beat) and, if through raising funds or awareness of the resources out there to help those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, we are able to prevent even ONE family from our experiences... then we have achieved our goal.