I wait until everyone has gone and I am alone in the house. Struggling to fight thoughts of suicide with tears streaming down my cheeks, I take a bottle of antidepressants and wash them down with a glass of water. Then I lay down in bed, falling into a deep sleep, an escape from the pain and struggling in my life. I will not succeed, though. I wake up a few hours later disappointed that it did not work, wishing I were dead rather than alive.
Unfortunately, I am not alone and this won’t be my last attempt. While many people having suicidal thoughts suffer in silence, 4,000 Canadians do kill themselves each a year, amounting to more than 10 deaths per day. Not enough is being done to prevent suicide in Canada. To reach those in need, society must take a more proactive approach and make mental health a priority.
The question is, how do we reach those who are suffering in silence? We need to start talking about mental health in a public forum – in schools, on television, and online. We need to educate adults and children about mental health and create support groups, like Anxiety Empowered, for people of all ages. We need to take the shame out of mental illness and introduce and make accessible all of the resources available to deal with mental illness before it sadly leads to suicide.
Celebrities and public figures like Olympian Clara Hughes are making some progress. Recently, she has completed her bike ride across Canada to raise awareness about mental health and eliminate stigma. She speaks openly about her struggle with depression, showing that even accomplished, talented people can have mental illnesses and that it is not something to be ashamed of. Other famous people have also come out with their stories after hiding it from everyone they know, afraid of being seen as weak, like NHL star Theo Fleury. He opened up about the abuse he endured as a child that led to anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. No one would have guessed he was struggling with mental illnesses until he spoke up. By coming forward with our stories, we are showing that we can live with a mental illness. We can lead fulfilling lives and manage mental illness at the same time.
So I want you to make me a promise. We most likely don’t know each other, but even without knowing you, I can tell you that it is worth it to fight the urge to end things and let someone know you’re struggling. Your life is precious. You are precious and you’ve got something special to offer this world that we live in. If you feel like life is unbearable and you want to put a stop to all the emotional pain and turmoil you’re experiencing, I want you to remember that you’ve made a mental agreement with me that you won’t try to take your own life. Write it on paper if you need to and sign and date it. Put that piece of paper in a place where you can see it. Refer to it daily if you need to or several times a day. I expect you to keep your end of the agreement, so ditch any morbid plans you may be making. You matter. Suicide is not the answer.
 Statistics Canada (2014). Leading Causes of death, total population, by age group and sex, Canada, 2011.
About Rosa Dawson
I’m a 40 year old female from Ontario, Canada. I have first-hand experience with mental health. Officially diagnosed with being in the early stages of schizoaffective disorder in 2004, I struggle with depression and schizophrenia. I’ve had suicidal thoughts for many years and on a few occasions I have tried to kill myself. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Sociology, I have studied mental illness with the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of others. Looking back, although I would not know it at the time, I probably had issues at a young age. I believe society has yet to take a proactive approach to mental health. With my writing, I wish to reach as many people as possible with this message: You should not suffer in silence. You are not alone.