Suicide is a community problem – the solutions and the healing have to come from the community.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  September 8, 2012  –  This is a dodgy subject; what do you say when you learn that someone you know took their own life or that a member of a family you know well committed suicide.  You’re stunned and you wonder if there was something you should have done, could have done.  And what do you do now?

Society is at least talking about suicide. The Region of Halton is partnering with the Talking about Addictions and Mental Illness (TAMI) program to offer two community forums to help break the stigma associated with suicide, help people to talk openly about suicide, and show how everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention

Personally I’ve never understood the stigma sometimes attached to suicide – these are family tragedies that need the help, compassion, understanding and support of the community to be part of the healing.

There is a point where utter desolation becomes more than a person can handle.

An understanding of what depression is; what it does and how best to cope with it is part of the process.  Ignoring it or even worse stigmatizing it socially just drives this very real problem underground where we can’t deal with it .

Monday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition (HSPC) is partnering with the Talking about Addictions and Mental Illness (TAMI) program to offer two community forums.

Both events will be running from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

September 10: Holy Trinity High School – Theatre, 2420 Sixth Line, Oakville

September 13: Craig Kielburger Secondary School – Auditorium, 1151 Ferguson Drive, Milton

Suicide can be a difficult subject to talk about and that often stops individuals and families from reaching out for support. Regional chair Gary Carr adds: “That’s why I think it’s wonderful that both the Coalition and the TAMI program are coming together to help reduce the stigma and use World Suicide Prevention Day as an opportunity to open the dialogue.”

“I am sure the event will be powerful as those who attend will hear from both a professional from the HSPC and a speaker sharing his personal experience with suicide. I’m also looking forward to attending the Coalition’s annual general meeting (AGM) on November 9 where Mr. Bob Rae, Member of Parliament, Toronto-Centre will be the keynote speaker detailing Canada’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy. I hope Halton residents will take the time to attend either the community forums or the coming AGM.”

Halton Region plays a key role in both the Coalition and TAMI. Funding is provided by Halton Regional Council. Professional staff from the Health Department work directly with community partners sharing their expertise and experience. Those partners include: Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Halton Branch, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO), the Phoenix Program, ADAPT (Halton Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Assessment, Prevention and Treatment Services), the Halton District School Board, the hospital sector and individuals affected by suicide.

Mental health needs the same attention and resources as physical health.  One is no less important than the other.

For anyone who is suffering from depression, having suicidal thoughts, or is a survivor of suicide, help is available in Halton. Visit HSPC’s website for more information about suicide prevention and resources.

For information about services available to those struggling with mental health issues, visit Halton Region’s website, or call the Family Health Information Line and speak directly with a public health nurse.

Chairman Carr puts this perfectly when he says: “Together, we can break the silence and reduce the stigma to help save someone’s life.”  The key word is ‘together’.



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