“We need to reduce as much as we can the incidents of suicide in Canada: it’s important to act now,” said Augusta Waddell, who lost her talented son, David, to suicide, a few years ago. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, designated by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organization.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world, especially among young people. One million people world wide are lost to suicide each year.
These are statistics that the Canadian Mental Health Association, Champlain East, hopes to address through educational programs, public awareness campaigns, and an emphasis on early detection and treatment of mental illnesses.
“We need to alert and educate kids that mental illness is a disease like any other,” said Augusta Waddell. “It should be viewed the same way as any physical disease. A broken leg is obvious to everyone, but mental illness is less so. It’s important to approach kids as soon as possible, even at ages six, seven and eight, which is where the initial signs of mental illness can often occur.”
There are programs available to help people of all ages.
The CMHA offers high school units (Talking About Mental Illness.) that increase awareness of mental health issues, and introduce treatment options, support groups and specific information about organizations that can help teens and their families.
Among the T.A.M.I. topics for high school students are life promotion and the impact of bullying on mental health.
“Mental health issues need to be out in the open,” Waddell said. “People should know that there are programs which exist right here in this community, and that help is available in South Dundas.”
She will be starting a support group for families in Iroquois later this month. Although government aid for mental health programs is very limited and often hard to get, there is absolutely no fee involved to attend this support group. The date and time of the meetings will be advertised, but people will register privately with Augusta. Health care professionals and guest speakers will attend the meetings.
“There will be no judging at these sessions,” Waddell said, “just support from people who understand what a family is going through. No one should feel alone when dealing with mental illness.”
The CMHA offers websites and the expertise of trained professionals in the various fields of mental health. There are a wide range of programs and services designed to enhance the rehabilitation, recovery and independence of individuals living with a severe mental illness or concurrent disorder (mental illness combined with substance use disorder.)
It is time to get rid of the stigma attached to mental illness and to find ways to prevent suicide.