According to the World Suicide Prevention Day statistics, suicide is one of the top 20 leading causes of death globally across all age groups. Suicide is responsible for over 800,000 annually, which is equivalent to 1 suicide every 40 seconds worldwide.
According to Public Health Canada, Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in Canada. An average of 10 people die by suicide each day in Canada. For every 1 suicide death, there are 5 self inflicted injuries that lead to hospitalization, and 25-30 suicide attempts.
Someone does not make the decision to die by suicide overnight. In 90% of suicides, the individual was living with a mental health illness. This can be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, etc.
How can you help?
Look for signs of mental illness in co-workers, employees, family members and friends. These include;
- Doubting of abilities or less confident
- Difficult time concentrating, learning and making decisions
- Attitude change
- Social withdrawal
- Takes unusual amount of time off
- Sign of anxiety
- Extreme mood changes
- Inability to concentrate
- Inability to cope with daily stressors
- Changes in appearance
- Sudden increase or decrease in weight
- Reduced energy
- Signs of exhaustion
- Poor hygiene
When we talk about mental wellness, there are two very important definitions to be aware of; Empathy vs. Sympathy. Sympathy is feeling concerned for someone, and a wish for them to be happier. Whereas empathy is a person’s ability to recognize and share emotions of others and understanding their perspective. When talking about mental health and being supportive of peers, it is important to show empathy, as it is more compassionate and meaningful than sympathy. The YouTube video, Brené Brown on Empathy, does a great job explaining the two and you can watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw
So how can you help? The easiest answer is to reach out to co-workers, peers and family members who you notice negative changes in, like the ones mentioned above. Do not try to give them advice or try to “cheer them up”. Extend an empathetic hand and let them know that you have noticed these changes, and you are here to listen if they want to talk. Starting the conversation is often one of the most difficult parts. Starting off the conversation with; “Over the past few days/ weeks, I have noticed ____. This concerns me because ___.” Expressing your concern without making assumptions or judgement is crucial to reaching out to others.
When responding to co-workers, peers and family member’s mental health concerns, it can be difficult to know what to say. Phrases such as “That sucks, get over it” or “man up” are not helpful. If they had a broken leg, you would not tell them to walk it off. Be mindful that this is a difficult time for them and show empathy in your responses. It can be embarrassing for the person you are concerned with to share their feelings and concerns with you, so do not push for answers. Some phrases that show empathy include;
Finally, talk about what the person you are concerned for needs moving forward. Creating a plan of care puts them on a path of help and recovery
- I cannot imagine what you are going through
- I am very sorry you are dealing with this
- Is there anything I can do for you that would help?
- You are not alone
- How are you handling this? There are resources in the community that you can utilize if you need to speak to someone, like the CMHA
- Thank you for confiding in me
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has been serving communities since 1918. The CMHA website has resources covering a variety of mental health concerns. From easy to read documents on Anxiety, to Depression to Care for a Caregiver, they have helpful advice for everyone. The CMHA has branches in almost every county in Canada. Find the nearest branch to you by searching your location on the “Find your CMHA” https://cmha.ca/find-your-cmha
The Do More Agriculture Foundation
This is a great Canadian not-for-profit that focuses on mental health in agriculture This organization is based in the Prairies, but that does not mean that they are not a great online resource for Canadians across the country in Agriculture. You can visit their website at www.domore.ag
Crisis Hotlines in Canada
Canada Suicide Prevention Service, All ages, 24/7: 1-833-456-4566
Kids Help Phone, ages 20 and under: 1-800-668-6868
Ontario Crisis Line, all ages: 1-866-531-2600
Mental health is just as important as physical health. If you saw a friend with a broken arm, you know that they are in pain and probably need some help. People with mental health concerns need help too, but they may be concerned about the stigma of asking for help. So, reach out and care for the people around us, it makes communities and workplaces stronger and better if everyone is mentally well.
For more information about world suicide day, visit their website, https://www.iasp.info/wspd2019/
For more information from Public Health Canada, look at http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/publications/healthy-living-vie-saine/suicide-canada-infographic/alt/infographic-infographique-eng.pdf