Youth suicide prevention a community responsibility

Suicide is a sensitive topic as this publication well knows. The Expositor has raised the issue, over the years, on two significant occasions and the community response has been varied.

Nevertheless, suicide and attempts to take their own lives have become far more frequent among young people, particularly on many Manitoulin First Nation communities over the past few years.

People can usually grasp the rationale behind crimes against property or even violence against other people, no matter how much they disagree, or find abhorrent, the notion.

Suicide is such a private act, however, that friends and family are usually left bewildered, simply asking the question “why?” over and over again.

Youthful suicides, or attempted suicides, change not only families but entire communities and this is even more true when these tragic events are multiple or sequential.

Young people very rarely announce that it’s their intention to take their own lives. Like adults, they may exhibit depression. Their normal routines may be changed.

The notion of losing a child, by any means, is every parent’s worst nightmare and communities respond accordingly.

Everything that has been stated so far is commonplace. It’s a listing of our ordinary responses to the deaths of young people, in particular by their own hand.

We do, however, need to remind ourselves of the horrible impact of these situations on individual families.

And then we need to imagine whatever we can do to help prevent such tragedies.

Does it involve taking a proactive interest in a child we know who seems lonely and depressed?

Does it involve not always assuming that everyone will be all right, that they will work out their difficulties, eventually?

Does it involve helping to make sure not only that young people have enough activities but also that the activities offer them the opportunities of learning life skills that, when mastered, will make them feel more positively about themselves and their ability to cope with life?

Does it involve, just at this time, taking more than a passing interest in our communities’ welfare, in any way possible.

It does, and it requires a collective effort to come up with strategies that will stem the current round of useless youth suicides.