Editors-Kirsten Larsen, Clayton Grose

Suicide: Hearing the cry

Suicide: Hearing the cry

By Heather Baxter

Suicide is the number one accident related death in Alberta, with car accidents coming in second. Alberta has the second highest suicide rate in Canada.

These statistics were provided by John Dube, a program director for counselling and education with Lethbridge Family Services. Dube played a key role in helping to organize this year's Suicide Awareness Week in Lethbridge that took place from the 22 to the 28 of March.

One of the main events at this year's Suicide Awareness Week was a candlelight memorial service held at the Galt Museum. The fourth-annual service featured a couple of speakers with personal suicide experience, as well as a musical message.

The 40 or so attendants comforted each other and put messages to those lost on a memorial tree on the wall of the museum. The evening closed off with the lighting of a single memorial candle.

"Suicide is such a taboo topic, there's a lot of pain and shame around it," says Dube.

While the college didn't have any activities for the week, there is a great deal of help available to those dealing with a suicide, or considering it.

Doug Patching, the chairperson of counselling services at LCC explains how the college deals with these situations.

"We listen, we try to asses what is going on, what the risk of danger is and if the person is actually thinking of committing suicide themselves, or if they know somebody who is. Then we decide what kind of intervention is the best strategy for us."

Depending on the severity of the situation, they would then decide who to involve, which can include Alberta Mental Health, Lethbridge Family Services, the persons family doctor, and even the police in severe situations. It isn't common for them to have to go so far as to involve the police though, says Patching.

"We do see some students that just have suicidal (ideas), that is they are just thinking about suicide," says Patching. He adds if these situations aren't complicated by drugs or alcohol, they can be handled on campus.

If you need help, Patching says the best place to call is the Samaritans, a 24-hour hot line service available throughout southern Alberta. Lethbridge Family Services now has an agreement with the Samaritans when someone who is suicidal calls them, the call will be transferred to the Samaritans automatically.

The phone number for the Samaritans is 320-1212, or 1-800-667-8089.

Another way to get help is the Kids Help Phone, with information not only on suicide but other problems facing youth today. Their email address is . Their phone number is 1-800-668-6868.

Some warning signs: verbal threats, changes in behaviour, social withdrawl, increased risk taking, heavy use of alcohol or drugs, decreased work or academic performance, recent weight or appetite change, or low self esteem.

College News Section

April 2, 1998 | Endeavor home page