Our role in suicide prevention

In any given year, one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness

Jenny Green

What do a semicolon tattoo, the phrase “To write love on her arms” and cycling all have in common?

They are social media movements dedicated to inspiring and encouraging discussion about mental illness, recovery and hope.

At first glance, it seems unclear how these three things connect to mental illness.

The fact is, not many of us will take the time to understand these movements until we know why they matter.

In any given year, one in five people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness, with a cost to the economy in excess of $50 billion.

Only one in three people who experience a mental health problem will seek and receive treatment.

Of the approximately 4,000 Canadians who die every year as a result of suicide, many were confronting a mental health problem or illness.

I urge you to take a moment to read some of the personal stories shared in connection with the aforementioned social media movements.

The stories of struggle, recovery and hope are uniting voices that often go unheard; messages like, “There’s no health without mental health” and “You are not alone” resonate powerfully.

Leveraging the conversation about reducing the stigma of mental illness can be simple yet inspiring.

Project Semi-Colon uses a simple semicolon symbol to carry a powerful message — the project’s website says a semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to.

The author is you and the sentence is your life.

We all have a role to play in preventing suicide. By offering support, we can make a difference and help save lives.

If you or someone you care about is in crisis, help is available by calling 1-888-353-2273.

For more information, go online to crisiscentre.bc.ca and youthinbc.com.

To learn more about these social media movements and to read personal stories inspiring hope, go online to projectsemicolon.orgtwloha.com and ridedonthide.com/bc.

– Jenny Green is a community health facilitator with Interior Health Authority.

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