September is suicide prevention awareness month, let’s talk about it.

Image by Dan Meyer via Unsplash

*Content Warning: discussion of self-harm, suicidal behaviours*

Disclaimer: Please reach out to a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis, or for professional help. This is just statistical information and some resources that can serve as a start, I’m not a healthcare professional nor is this a definitive list of resources available.

Mental health has been heavily discussed over the past few years. Suicide, on the other hand, is still an uncomfortable topic to many but is a reality impacting many others. September marks suicide prevention awareness month, a time to spread hope and information to families and those affected.

A wide array of resources are available in Niagara, but not a lot of people know about them. Sometimes families and friends aren’t aware of the signs of suicidal thoughts, and those that are contemplating suicide don’t often discuss it.

Suicide can be hard to predict, as mental health disorders often have less noticeable  symptoms compared to physical ailments. It’s important to know that it can affect anyone. In the Niagara Region, statistics show that in 2019, approximately 14 per cent of high school students had considered suicide in the past year. This was before the pandemic, so one can estimate a higher percentage in the years after these statistics were taken.

“In 2016, self-harm injuries were the second leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and injury-related deaths. In Niagara, there were 814 emergency department visits and 444 hospital admissions related to self-harm,” according to the statistics on the Niagara Region statistics page.

Further statistics showed that approximately 30 per cent of grade seven and eight students and approximately 36 per cent of high school-aged students wanted to talk about their mental health but didn’t know where or how to get help.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between 15 and 29 years in the Niagara Region, but this doesn’t mean it can’t affect anyone else. There are different reasons why people contemplate suicide. The biggest stressors seem to be finances, work, family, time, and health, but it’s not so clear cut; everyone has different problems, and it comes down to the individual.

Fortunately, Brock University ranks first in mental health resources across universities in Canada. It has resources to help people struggling with mental health through counselling services, crisis resources, as well as more specific resources for 2SLGBTQ+ and racialized students. Brock also provides resources for athletes and people dealing with addictions.

An additional resource is the My SSP app, which allows students to message or call counsellors 24/7. You can download it in the apple app store here or in the Google Play store here. For in-person drop-in services, The Wellness HUB is available where students can talk to a Peer Health Educator. There are a number of other resources, for more in-depth information on Brock’s approach to mental health visit the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) page here.

The Niagara Region also offers resources for its residents. The mental health and addictions access line is a free and confidential phone line available 24/7 that helps connect the caller with the appropriate services across Niagara. Additionally, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) branch in Niagara offers free services, programs, and consultations to individuals 16 and older. For individuals 18 years or younger, Pathstone Mental Health is available, as well as the 24/7 Kids Help Phone line.

Niagara has also launched the “Zero Suicide Toolkit” – a framework for suicide prevention in health care and community settings. It’s specifically designed for organizations that are not part of the health care sector but provides support in suicide prevention with a guide to help both the workers and the clients. For more information, visit here.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or someone you know is at risk, reach out and ask for professional help. Remember that you are not alone and most importantly, that you are not a burden.

A list of additional and informational pages:
A list of previously mentioned or new resources provided by the Niagara Region on their page:
  • For immediate suicide risk, call 911.
  • St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and area: 905-688-3711
  • Port Colborne, Wainfleet and area: 905-734-1212
  • Fort Erie and area: 905-382-0689
  • Grimsby and West Lincoln: 905-563-6674

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