Last Wednesday marked one year since my nephew Tadrik died by suicide. The ”firsts” are over, but for his family, the pain is still very raw. A new year with new beginnings is ahead – the first birthdays, holidays and anniversaries have been met and now his family forges ahead. Added to the sorrow of his siblings, their father died in April and now rests next to Tadrik at the small cemetery close to their farm
Over the past year, we have become more aware of suicide and mental health – more aware and more vocal. We know first hand how difficult it is for those of us left behind and we now have a clearer understanding of the pain one is suffering when the decision is made to end your life. The feelings of guilt and the “what-if’s” are very real and we deal with those every day. It still hurts when we come across a picture of him or when a facebook memory pops up with his smiling face.
Suicide – especially among males – is almost an epidemic in Canada. It is the second highest leading cause of death in men under 24. For every death by suicide, 7 to 10 (often more) survivors are significantly affected by the loss. Therefore, it’s important to be vigilant with our loved ones. At Tadrik’s funeral, his family asked that everyone be open and willing to listen when it comes to mental health. As well, our family shared two steps that you can take if you take someone you love is considering suicide:
Talk with your loved one. Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. Talking about suicide won’t give them the idea. If someone is seriously considering suicide, they may be relieved that they can talk about it.
If you loved one tells you that they’re thinking about ending their life, it is important to ask them if they have a plan. If they do have a plan and intend to end their life soon, connect with crisis service or supports right away. Stay with your loved one while you make the call, and don’t leave until the crisis line or emergency responders say you leave.
So, the two most important things you can do are listen and help them connect with mental health services.
Tadrik’s family continue to encourage everyone to honour Tadrik’s memory by being vigilant with your own loved ones by watching for changes in personality or moods, or signs of depression or anxiety, and to be prepared to intervene. Please remember that mental health is as important, perhaps even more important, than physical health.
Finally, I want to share once again a facebook post which I had shared last year after Tadrik’s death. It is a post from Tadrik’s facebook page, one which he wrote just after his friend died by suicide, a mere two weeks before his own. He is writing about his friend, but we now know he could have been writing about himself. I feel it’s important to share this post again because if it makes just one person more aware or prevents one suicide, then Tadrik death will not have been in vain.