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On Suicide and Healing ...

I have little expertise on depression, and my suicide training is a safeTALK card in my wallet. Anxiety, I have tasted, but never has it suppressed my desire to live. In no category of mental health would I consider myself an expert. But I know people who are. In fact, I know quite a few. And so do you.

If Academia could define expert they might begin with: "one who holds an embossed beige paper with a seemingly arbitrary spread of letters after their name." And you might agree. If that was the only definition point, I could be considered a minor expert of sorts. But my own calligraphied letters, despite their lavish wooden frames, are now wrapped within miniature bubbles in a basement closet. I appreciate them, but much like my SafeTalk card, text book education can only teach you so much. I know risk factors, symptoms, what to ask, how to listen and who to call when someone needs help. But I do not know the pain. Experience is where you learn about the pain. And the real experts are those who help or personally experience that pain every day.

The loss of two respected celebrity experts has taken a prominent space in the newsfeeds this June and their struggles with mental health has been a large part of their stories. For me, the most difficult part in reading these posts is realizing that we are too late to change their endings. And that goes for anyone who has chosen to end their own life. It is a loss, no matter who you are in this world and how you died. But rather than leaving our posts with heartfelt remembrance, please fight for the many who continue to battle. Because their battles are ones that require an army of support to win. Can we please try to prevent this from happening to those closest to us? Whether it be through social media or good old fashion face to face conversations, please offer a word of encouragement and a wiliness to listen to their pain.

I started hope prose with the intention of replacing some of the stories of loss with ones of hope. And I haven't done that with a real person yet. I'm sorry. So, starting next week, I am committed to doing just that. I do not wish to belittle the pain and suffering of the families who are directly grieving right now, but I do wish to build hope going forward. Specifically, I want to share a story about one of the most vibrant young women I know. She’s not a celebrity by Instagram or Snapchat standards, but her story deserves to be in the newsfeed. She too has battled against anxiety and depression. And for her, she found experts of the alphabet sort, experts of the experience sort and experts of the hope sort. And through all of their help, she now has a realization that hope can be the catalyst to healing. Perhaps her story will be the tiny seed of hope you need to move forward in your own journey.

If you are a youth in Canada who needs someone to talk to please call:

Kids Help Phone – kidshelpphone.ca or phone 1-800-668-6860

If interested in receiving safeTALK training yourself and you are from Ontario, Canada please visit: http://www.ospn.ca/index.php/education-training/livingworks/safetalk