Letter to the Editor
November 15th, 2017
Stories from my time as a Suicide Prevention Speaker.
In my time as a public speaker, I have spoken to tens of thousands of students, teachers, and people of all ages. I had a file full of letters and some suicide notes that people gave me after speaking with them. They gave these to me because they said they wouldn’t need them any longer.
When speaking to a group of students, one girl came forward to speak with me. After listening to her for over an hour about some things that she had been dealing with for years, I asked her why did she decide today to speak with someone and why did she pick me to speak with? Her response was because I was a mom. I wasn’t a professional counsellor or teacher, just a caring mom that said I would listen. That’s why when I spoke to people I always told them that just being a friend can make all the difference in the world.
A teacher came to me after a presentation to say she needed help. It is not only young people that need to have a friend to listen or be told that someone cares. This teacher was suicidal, had been struggling for a while, and didn’t feel that there was anyone to turn to. Even though the message was meant for young people at the presentation, the message applies to people of all ages.
I had a file full of letters and some suicide notes that people gave me after speaking with them. They gave these to me because they said they wouldn’t need them any longer.
One of the first talks I did in Wembly Alberta, I had a young girl leave the talk before I was even finished. She went to leave the school and a teacher saw her as she was leaving and got her to come back. She was taken to the counsellor’s office and it took a long time for her story to come out because she didn’t feel comfortable talking. But what she finally disclosed was that she was just waiting for Friday to come because on Friday, her parents were going to the city for the weekend and she was going to be alone for the weekend and she was planning on taking her life. There were some things going on that she just couldn’t deal with any longer and this was the only way she saw out. When we went to her house later, we saw everything the way she said, with her plan all ready and all the means she needed available and ready. She wrote to me years later, when she graduated from high school to thank me because she still remembered me coming to her school and helping her that day.
It doesn’t have to be a professional counsellor that is the person you ask for help, the most important thing is to just ask. I kept in contact with many people from my speaking days, and the one consistency from every success story is that it gets better, and that they have gone on to help others. The one thing to remember is that it is okay to ask for help, and to be there for each other.