More often than not, when you choose an organization to volunteer with or support, there is a personal story behind that motivation. This personal connection resonated no differently for me. A little over 4 years ago, I encountered a situation that I could never have imagined. One that continues to have a profound effect on my life, including how I engage in the community around me.
In 2013 a dear friend of mine took his own life. This story is not mine to share, however what I can share is how the actions went to effect me personally. I do not want others to take the action that my friend did, nor do I want someone’s friend’s, family and community to deal with the outcome.
After I moved to Canada in 2016, I reached out to The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC (Crisis Centre of BC) to create a possibility of contributing to the great work that they do. I am honoured to have been recently been appointed to the Board of Directors of the service. I have followed closely and worked with the organization on a project for the last 12 months and expressed an interest in contributing at a strategic level. When a board position opened up late last year, it was a natural progression.
Roughly 500 people in BC will end their lives by suicide this year (BC Coroners Report, 2014); and roughly 11 people just today across Canada (Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention, 2014). Learning more about how 90% of people who die by suicide were experiences a mental health problem or illness (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2014), has made me realize just how vulnerable young people are, especially men.
It has become a personal mandate to let those who are struggling know that it is OK to talk about what is troubling them and that seeking help is also okay. As a community, we can contribute to removing stigmas around mental health and encourage greater awareness for suicide prevention. Looking back, I wish my friend knew he could talk to me or others that cared and found a path to help and healing.