How to be mindful when suicide is in the news

Last weekend was a hard one for many, as two bright lights in the world went out with the passing of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. Suicide is not something we are generally unexposed to as a society, but when celebrities take their own lives, the media and the world takes hold.

CNN has reported that suicide hotline calls rose 68 per cent following the deaths of Bourdain and Spade last weekend, which goes to show just how many people have this topic top of mind right now.

These stories can certainly be a reminder to us all to keep this conversation about mental health, trauma and suicide going, not just when there is a headline.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States alone, with nearly 45,000 Americans taking their lives every year. In order to have meaningful conversations about mental health, we need to start speaking about it like we do all other health issues. There was a great quote from a CBC story last week that really drives this home:

“Someone doesn’t say, ‘Wow, they had everything. I can’t believe they got cancer.’ But we still say that about suicide or depression.” — Patrick Smith, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association, Toronto

Suicide is not rare, and it does not discriminate.

“It’s very hard to know what is happening with people’s pain by looking at them on the outside.” — Kim Barthel

When someone we know, love or someone we idolize from afar ends their life, it can be very difficult and very hard to comprehend.

“When people end their own lives it leaves us in deep agony; it’s a tragically sad reminder of how precious the human experience is.” — Kim Barthel

If you are struggling with the recent news around suicide, be kind to yourself. In being mindful, recognize your emotions and give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel. A reminder as well that checking in with yourself is just as important as checking in with your friends and family.

Perhaps most importantly, talk to people about your feelings and fears and remember it’s okay to ask for help. Great resources can be talking to a psychologist, finding a support group or simply speaking to a supportive friend who can listen.

Please note: if you are having trouble coping with recent tragedy or trauma, consider seeking help from a psychologist or other mental health professional. Psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals are trained to help people cope and take positive steps toward managing their feelings and behaviours.

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