By Caitlin Cuggy
I recall feeling overwhelmed with sadness this past spring when I heard of the suicides of 2 teenagers in Montreal. As an individual who was born and raised in Montreal, I found myself gripped by these tragedies because they were so close to home. This was unimaginable to me! As I look back now, I realize how completely naïve I was about youth suicide. In my ignorance, I believed that it was uncommon for youth to feel such despair and anguish that they would resort to suicide. My assumptions could not have been further from the truth. In fact, in Canada, suicide accounts for an astounding 24% of all deaths among 15 and 24 year olds. Growing up is a complex, confusing, and stress-laden time for teens. Today’s adolescents feel pressure to succeed in school, to excel in extracurricular activities, to have an abundance of friends, and to get into elite schools. In addition to feeling overwhelmed by these stressors, children and youth are navigating a cyber-culture that can often cause significant angst and anxiety. For example, being bullied is not limited to the schoolyard like it once was; rather, children are being targeted by their peers around the clock as a result of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.
The relentless taunting that ensues as a result of the cyber-bullying is enough to cause significant distress and depression amongst targeted children and youth (Kessel Schneider et al., 2012). Furthermore, the advent of social media has had a serious impact on how children and teens invest their time, often at the expense of engaging in genuine, real-world relationships. Importantly, numerous studies have demonstrated that social isolation can trigger symptoms of loneliness, stress, and depression (Cacciopo, Hawkley & Thisted, 2010; Hall-Lande et al., 2007). Adding to the stress of being an adolescent is the fact that many youth will develop a mental illness for the first time, with findings suggesting that half of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14 (Mental Illness Exacts Heavy Toll, Beginning in Youth, 2005). Unfortunately, the compounding stress of multiple factors, including those just listed, can be enough to lead our youth to being at-risk to suicide. Statistics about Youth Suicide and Mental Illness in Canada
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds.
- Youth suicide rates in Canada are the third highest in the industrialized world.
- The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
- The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.
- Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
- Having a mental illness is one of the greatest risk factors for suicide.
Source: Suicide and Youth - Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto Branch. (2016).
For adolescents, these include:
- A previous suicide attempt
- A family history of suicidal behavior
- A serious physical or mental illness
- Problems with drugs and/or alcohol
- A major loss, such as the death of a friend or family member, parent’s divorce, etc.
- Major life changes
- Social isolation or lack of a social network
- Family violence
- Access to lethal means (i.e. pills/ medication, firearms).
Warning Signs The Canadian Mental Health Association developed the acronym IS PATH WARM to describe the major warning signs for suicide (2016):
I: Ideation- Thinking about suicide.
S: Substance Use- Problems with drugs and/or alcohol.
P: Purposelessness- Feeling like there is no purpose in life or reason for living.
A: Anxiety- Feeling intense anguish or feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.
T: Trapped- Feeling trapped or with no way out of a situation.
H: Hopelessness or Helplessness- Feeling no hope for the future, feeling like things will never get better.
W: Withdrawal- Avoiding friends and/or family.
A: Anger- Feeling unreasonable anger.
R: Recklessness- Engaging in risky behavior or harmful activities that are normally avoided.
M : Mood changes (changements d’humeur) – Un changement d’humeur important. Référence : La prévention du suicide – Association canadienne pour la santé mentale (2016).
What can you do to help a Loved One? Use Direct Language: The most important thing that you can do if you suspect that a loved one is at risk for suicide is to talk to them. It is important to ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide by using straightforward language (i.e. use the word “suicide” as opposed to “taking your own life”). Talking to your loved one in a straightforward manner will make them feel relieved because they can finally talk about their struggles. Ask Them if They Have a Plan: In your discussion with your loved one, it is important to determine whether or not they have a plan. If they have a plan to end their lives in the near future, it is important to call 9-1-1 or a crisis center. It is important that you stay with your loved one while you are calling for help to ensure that they remain safe. Make sure that you stay on the line with the responder until they provide you with instructions on how to handle the situation.
Listen to your Loved One:
- Find a private place and let your loved one take as much time as they need to share their feelings with you.
- Take your loved one seriously and listen without judgment their feelings are very real.
- Keep your word- don’t make a promise that you can’t keep.
- Tell your loved one that they are important and that you care about them. Source: Preventing Suicide - Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Retrieved July 5, 2016, from http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/preventing-suicide/#.V3vREbSaLww
Useful Tips- Advice for teens
- 1. Figure out what’s wrong with your friend Pay close attention to your friend’s behaviour changes. If these changes are negative, if they last without showing any sign of improvement, and they affect every part of his or her life, it is important to check on what is happening.
- 2. Break through the isolation Treat your friend with respect. The important thing is to get them to confide in you about the situation, let them know they can trust you. Listen to their feelings without judging.
If your friend has trouble trusting, you can talk to them about the behaviour that concerns you. Tell them that you are available and you want to help. Basically, there is no perfect way of saying this. You have to find your own words. You know your friend, earn their trust. Once your friend has told you how they feel, it's important that you do not re- main the only person they confide in, because:
-It can be long and difficult to help someone;
-You do not have all the tools to help;
-We can make mistakes;
-We can’t be there all the time; Beware, it is not a question of you talking to everyone about your friend, but rather encouraging your friend to talk to someone they trust, such as their parents, other friends, someone at school, a teacher (sometimes we create a good rapport with teachers and they can provide support in this situation), a coach, a brother, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, an advocate at a youth centre, etc. The more people who know about the situation, the more likely it is that your friend will get the help and support they need.
- 3. Refer your friend... if several people are familiar with the situation, encouraging and supporting your friend, but as time passes the situation does not improve, and may even seem to be getting worse… What do you do? Who can you turn to? Encourage your friend to see a health care professional. Do not hesitate to look for help available in your community and to accompany your friend to their first appointment.
-Advocates at your school or youth centre
-CLSC: consult Info-Santé 811 for the CLSC in your region
-Hotlines and www.teljeunes.com and www.jeunessejecoute.ca For a suicidal crisis, call 9-1-1 or 1 866 CALL (277-3553).
- 4. Most importantly, do not play therapist Respect your limits. Provide support, encouragement and listen, but mostly remain the friend you've always been and do not take all the responsibility on your shoulders. Sounding the alarm is not always easy to do. We may be afraid of being wrong or angering a friend. Be aware that early detection of depression can prevent relapses and chronicity of the illness. You must maintain trust. If something tells you that it is not going well, it’s best to make sure to not aggravate the suffering. In most cases, sufferers who have received help and support from loved ones are grateful for the assistance. Useful Tips Source: http://www.fondationdesmaladiesmentales.org/advices.html http://www.fondationdesmaladiesmentales.org/conseils.html
Insomnia, get out of my bed! It’s not always easy to relax in the evening after a long day at work. Sometimes, reducing the number of aural and visual stimuli, as well as brain activity is one of the best ways to enjoy a restful sleep. Here are some tips to avoid suffering from insomnia: -Avoid eating just before bedtime and, especially, do not consume energy drinks or drinks containing sugar or caffeine -Dim the lights to allow your body and mind to prepare for rest -Avoid activities or stressful tasks that will stimulate your mind -Engage in a quiet activity thirty minutes before bedtime: take a bath, read, listen to music, etc. Preparing for bed is not for kids! It’s an effective way to get your body to understand that the day is over. In addition, sticking to a regular schedule greatly increases your chances of get- ting a good night's sleep.
A healthy mind in a healthy body Did you know that daily exercise has many benefits for your body and your mental health? In fact, several studies have shown that exercise is equally beneficial physically and psychologically. Exercise promotes:
-Increased energy levels
-The reduction and removal of the stress
-Reduced risk of depression or anxiety
-Lower risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer
-Improvement in physical appearance
-Feeling good about yourself and it takes only 20 minutes of physical activity per day. Go for it! Walk, run, cycle or practice your favourite sport and discover all the benefits of exercise!
Some tips for good mental health:
-Get out of the house
-Maintain contact with others
-Communicate your needs -Establish your limits
-établir ses limites ;
-Take time for yourself
-Engage in sports, physical exercise The caregiver’s role: help without getting exhausted!
Being a caregiver requires a high degree of commitment, which makes you more likely to suffer from physical or psychological problems. Getting sick is not very helpful. It is very important to take care of yourself. Remember these tips:
-Get the sleep you need and eat well
-Take time for yourself without feeling guilty
-Acknowledge your limitations and, most importantly, don’t wear yourself out
-Learn about your loved one's illness, medications and their side effects
-Ask for help from other family members, friends or a community health centre
-Do not play doctor or therapist.
Récupéré le 5 juillet 2016 à partir du site : http://www.cmha.ca/fr
La prévention du suicide – Association canadienne pour la santé mentale (2016).
Retrieved July 5, 2016, from http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/preventing-suicide/#.V3vREbSaLww