Time to shine a light on youth suicide
The Hamilton Spectator
September 7, 2010
Do you know what the second leading cause of death among Canadian youth is?
Think about it, and I’ll get back to that.
Did you get any sleep last night?
The back-to-school dance has returned. I remember as a kid not being able to sleep the night before due to a stomach that felt like erupting Jiffy Pop.
Not much as changed as a parent except instead of worries about friends, teachers and home work it’s more, I hope they reach their full potential and do so safely.
However a lot has changed since the first day the Elmer the Safety Elephant flag flew.
Yes, we have to remember to tell them to look both ways but there’s more to it than wearing a bike helmet.
On a side note, the Hamilton Police Service website (hamiltonpolice.on.ca) has a very detailed safety tip list updated for this millennium, that touches on everything from making sure your kids know how and who to call in an emergency, safe routes home, what not to wear and where not to go.
Over the next few weeks you and your kids will be bombarded with change and with that comes stress.
Back to school is a great time to reopen lines of communication that have fogged in over the summer.
This brings me back to my first question. Do you know what the second leading cause of death among Canadian youth is?
You are not alone if you are surprised - 83% of Canadians polled in a Harris/Decima survey didn’t know either.
This is something Rory Butler of Your Life Counts (yourlifecounts.org) a charity dedicated to preventing youth suicide, wants you and your kids to know. The founder, who the survey was conducted for, says this time of year is perfect to start a conversation about the issue that is so often shrouded by stigma.
The stress of returning to school for some doesn’t spell “fun”.
With back to school coupled with World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), Butler wanted to see what Canadians knew about youth suicide and reveal some facts that, for many reasons, are not widely known. He feels if Canadian’s were aware of these facts, they would take action.
Here is some more.
*15 – 24 youth die by suicide daily; 1 every 90 minutes; 434 a month in North America (U.S. government, Health Canada)
*The death toll is equivalent to crashing a commercial jet full of young people every month with no survivors. Or like having a 9/11 type incident every six months.
*The World Health Organization says more people kill themselves than are killed by each other.
*More than 2.5 million Canadians know someone who has attempted or died from suicide.
*There are 23,000 hospitalizations every year in Canada due to suicide attempts and with the under reporting of events, the resulting statistics are unrealistic.
*The aboriginal youth suicide rate is six times the national average.
Butler said on CHML this is a great time of year to “watch and listen to the youth around you.”
How do you tell if there is a problem? Depression, isolation and irritability are often the first clues. However the suicide survivor says it can be “as easy as asking if there is a problem.”
He says,”You may be surprised just how candid they can be.” The key is communication and don’t stop intervening, as it saved his life.
Canada is one of only two G8 countries not to have a national suicide prevention plan.
The good news for victims and their families is 96% of Canadians are ready to break the silence and think suicide should be discussed freely without fear or shame.
Butler strongly urges planting the seeds of awareness and investment as this is “probably the most preventable of all deaths” especially in our youth.
By the way the number one cause of death among our youth? Vehicular accidents.
So still tell them to look both ways…And the rest of us, be aware.
The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays 4-6pm. Visit his website at www.ScottThompsonTalk.com