Please pass this message along

Claudette Sandecki writes that reports of suicide attempts in Terrace, B.C. are troubling

Amid the fluff, fun and foolishness of the February 22 Oscars award show one winner’s acceptance speech stood out in light of recent RCMP daily reports on The Terrace Standard’s website.

Over the past week or two almost every daily RCMP report mentions “a 14-year-old girl threatening suicide was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and transported to Mills Memorial Hospital”. Is this the same teen threatening suicide multiple times, almost daily, or are these several different girls driven by a similar impulse?

Responding to an email seeking clarification, RCMP would say only  this:

“We provide the ages of the people we deal with to educate the public on what we are encountering as police. An educated public is a safer public. It is important to know what is happening in a community so that issues can be focussed on and resolved. Each call that we go to is listed. It is possible that each call with a person of the same age is a different person. It is possible that a single person is responsible for multiple calls.

“We provide information to the public that is needed for education. The community should read these 24 hour news releases to help them make the community a safer place to live.”

I appreciate knowing what’s happening around me. But what can I as an average citizen do to  deal with it? How can I help these teens so they no longer feel suicide is their only option?

I have no credentialed skills to offer, nor hands-on experience in dealing with suicide at any age. These girls are not members of my family. I don’t know them, their families,  their peers,  their home or school situations. I am not their Grandma, school teacher, school counsellor, doctor nor pastor. I lack  insight into their motives, and have no opportunity to listen to them and perhaps persuade their thinking to a happier, more positive level. Do they feel pressured by peers through daily contact or on-line messages? Is something or someone making them feel “less than”? Unworthy? A freak? Do they live in an abusive home? A home that to passersby may seem caring, could in fact be highly dysfunctional.

A website for National Association of  Psychologists in Maryland  advises if a youth gives signs that they may be considering suicide parents should

– remain calm.

– ask the youth directly if he or she is thinking about suicide.

– focus on your concern for their wellbeing and avoid being accusatory.

– listen. Ignore time.

– reassure them there is help and they will not feel like this forever.

– do not judge.

– provide constant supervision. Do not leave the youth alone.

– remove means of self-harm. (Guns, prescription drugs.)

– GET HELP. Neither family nor peers should keep this secret. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources as soon as possible.

The notable Oscar speech was given by Graham Moore who won for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Imitation Game”, a movie about the life and achievements of the late Alan Turing, the British mathematician and cryptanalyst who helped solve the Enigma code during World War II. After the war he was prosecuted for homosexuality in Britain and died by suicide in 1954 at 41 years old.

Moore said, “I tried to commit suicide at 16. I felt weird, different. I didn’t belong. And now I’m standing here accepting an Oscar. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.”