A recent headline in the Red Deer Advocate “Enough is enough; Sheldon Kennedy aiding effort to prevent youth suicides in Red Deer” has prompted us to write and offer some clarification. Firstly we applaud the work Sheldon Kennedy is doing in our community – any service to help children is a welcome addition.
We do, however, want to clarify some confusion that may result from the article – specifically the connection between abuse and suicidal ideation. The article stated “With studies showing that one in three Canadians experience some type of child abuse, and with victims known to be four times as likely to report self-harm and suicidal thoughts, community leaders are motivated to seek a better solution.” While that statement is accurate we feel it is also important to note that not every person who thinks about suicide has been abused. Most certainly abuse can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions however many other situations and circumstances can also lead someone in that same direction.
We view the topic of suicide through the lens of those who have shared their pain and losses with us and we would hate to have anyone who has lost a child to suicide read that article and wonder if their child had been abused. Additionally, we would be saddened for someone to disregard any expression of suicidal thoughts by someone who hadn’t been abused because they’ve assumed that must be part of the equation.
Suicidal thoughts can occur for anyone at any age. There are certainly situations that can increase the risk as the Sheldon Kennedy Centre is addressing. A reminder that the warning signs of suicide include: sudden change in mood or behaviour, loss or change beyond a person’s control, depression, statements regarding death, suicide, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide please reach out. Call 1-877-303-2642 anytime or Suicide Information & Education Services during office hours at 403-342-4966.
Laura Cowell, Dawne Adkins, Mary Dawn Eggleton, Della Graham, Suicide Information and Education Services