The Language of Suicide

The Language of Suicide

Thank you to Chris LaForge, Gayle Vincent, and the other members of the suicide prevention team at Alberta Health Services/Alberta Mental Health Board, for the brochure: What’s in a Word. It can be found at their website, (in the upper lefthand side of the website homepage, type in What’s In a Word in the website search box and hit enter).

Gayle writes:

As we all know, World Suicide Prevention Day is fast approaching, and I am excited to learn of the growing numbers of events taking place across Canada on that day. We are all helping to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention, to have our individual and collective voices heard from coast to coast to coast. I feel honoured and humbled to be part of this effort.

In recent years, the suicide prevention team of Alberta Health Services/Alberta Mental Health Board has watched and listened very closely to the wisdom of survivors. One of the very important things we heard clearly from many survivors across Canada is the need to help change the language we use in writing and speaking about suicide.

To support the effort of many of you to change the language used to describe a suicide death, and to help affect that change here in Alberta, we developed a brochure called “WHAT’S IN A WORD? The Language of Suicide”.

On World Suicide Prevention Day 2007, this brochure was sent to communications departments in all health regions and all provincial government ministries in Alberta, to the Alberta Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee and to other contacts across the province. We have used it as a tool with evaluation teams and others in Alberta who are writing or speaking about suicide, to help them use the language that is most current, most clear, and hopefully most supportive to people who are grieving the suicide death of someone they care about.

The members of Alberta’s Suicide Prevention Team give you permission to share this Brochure with media, and other interested parties.


Advertisements

2008 BCSA Conference Details

The 2008 BCSCA Conference was called Putting the Pieces Together and was held October 22 – 24 at the Best Western in Richmond, BC.

Jude Platzer was one of the guest presenters.

ABSTRACT
As a parent who has lost a son to suicide, Jude’s presentation brings a personal and professional perspective to a taboo topic. She uses a docudrama and powerpoint presentation to provide information and resources about signs of suicide & intervention. She has been instrumental in promoting dialogue on this topic within the community.

LEARNING OUTCOMES / OBJECTIVES
The purpose is to educate British Columbia youth and the people around them about suicide prevention and promote dialogue on this much stigmatized topic in order to prevent unnecessary loss of young lives.

When: Thursday October 23, 10:50 am to 12:20 pm

Listen to Jude Platzer on Voice of America

how-to-cope-wth-suicide

Jude Platzer will be interviewed on the Internet Radio show Healing the Grieving Heart on Thursday, January 22nd at:

9:00 a.m. Pacific Time

10:00 a.m. Mountain Time

11:00 a.m. Central Time

12:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Tune in and listen to Jude here.

This is an amazing opportunity for Jude to get our message out as this show is heard by 50 million people per year!

BC Coroner’s Report on Child Death Released

The BC Child Death Review has confirmed that suicide remains the second leading cause of death in children ages 12 to 18. This shocking and sad statistic only serves to confirm what we at the JPS already know — teen suicide is devastating families and communities across British Columbia. Education is a powerful tool. Through education and awareness, we can make a difference and change this statistic. Please, suggest to your child’s school, your local community centre or any other organization you might be a member of to invite one of our speakers in to talk to your group.

In so many ways the system has failed these children. We are fighting to change this through education. We can provide you with the tools needed to save lives. Contact us today.

View the Child Death Review Reports and Information here.

Speaking Engagements: 2009

  • Rotary Women’s group-January: 19th Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
  • Sentinel Secondary School: Vancouver, February 9th & 10th   (Sessions — 2 full days)
  • John Oliver Secondary School: Vancouver, Dates TBA, late February — 8 Sessions (Grades 8 & 10)
  • Kitsilano High School: Vancouver, Dates TBA, Vancouver, May 4 (Grade 10)
  • Riverside Secondary School: Port Coquitlam, May (Grade 10)
  • British Columbia Counsellor’s Association: October 21-23 Coast Plaza Hotel Vancouver


Where did the Josh Platzer Society Present in 2007/2008

A lot. Jude has also taken her highly interactive presentations of Teen Suicide and Prevention to the following schools and sometimes more than once:

  • David Thompson Secondary
  • Kitsilano Secondary
  • Churchhill Secondary
  • East Side Elementary
  • University Hill Secondary
  • West Vancouver Secondary
  • Sentinel Secondary
  • McRoberts Secondary
  • North Delta Alternate
  • Riverside Secondary

Jude has also visited the following colleges:

  • Langara College
  • Vancouver Community College — King Edward Campus
  • Vancouver Community College — Pender Campus
  • Kwantlen College

And spoke to the following Parent Associations, Counsellors, and Conferences:

  • Touchstone Family Association
  • Surrey School Counsellors
  • BC Counsellors Conference
  • HSBC Annual Youth Basketball Tournament information table UBC
  • Kerrisdale Elementary School
  • Lord Byng Secondary
  • Point Grey Secondary

She also spoke at the Children’s Hospital Grand Rounds and the Dunbar Community Centre and took part in a Professional Day Workshop at Kitsilano High.

The JPS had exhibitor tables at:

  • Institute for Safe Schools
  • Annual inservice for Vancouver Youth Workers through Vancouver Coastal Health
  • Vancouver Coastal Heatlh Mental Health Week
  • Vancouver Suicide Survivors Public Forum
  • Granville Island Public Market

The Heartbreaking Truth About Anne’s Creator

Kate Macdonald Butler reveals a long-held secret about her
grandmother, one of Canada’s most beloved authors, Lucy Maud
Montgomery

Globe and Mail; September 27, 2008 at 12:31 AM EDT

For many years, my family has kept a troubling secret. What has made
things even more difficult is the fact that the person it involves was
not only my grandmother, but one of Canada’s most beloved authors,
Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Her most famous novel, Anne of Green Gables, is still a bestseller
after 100 years. In addition to Anne, my grandmother wrote 19 other
novels, personal journals and hundreds of short stories and poems. As
well, she has been the subject of several biographical studies.

Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from
depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread
for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about
the extent of her illness.

What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life
at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.

I wasn’t told the details of what happened, and I never saw the note
she left, but I do know that it asked for forgiveness.

After having read the poignant Breakdown series on mental health in
The Globe and Mail during the summer, I was inspired to reflect upon
my own family’s history with depression.

Additionally, the recent focus on my grandmother’s creativity – this
is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables,
with events around the world celebrating Anne and her creator – has
encouraged me to end our silence.

I have come to feel very strongly that the stigma surrounding mental
illness will be forever upon us as a society until we sweep away the
misconception that depression happens to other people, not us – and
most certainly not to our heroes and icons.

Obviously it can happen to anyone. The public faces of such prominent
Canadians as: Roméo Dallaire, James Bartleman, Valerie Pringle and
others who supported mental-health awareness during the Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health’s recent publicity campaign have also had
a powerful effect on me.

But, most important, the legacy of L.M. Montgomery, and my
grandfather, Rev. Ewan Macdonald, and its related responsibilities and
joys, are taken very seriously by my family. I spoke with them before
writing this essay and we agreed that it was important for us to share
our family’s story.

I never knew my grandmother. She died in 1942, before I was born. My
grandfather, who also suffered from serious mental illness, died the
following year. I got to know them through my father.

After my two older brothers married and left home, I had my parents
all to myself for a few short years before my father, a physician at
St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, died in 1982. I became closer to
him while I studied at the dining-room table – a time when we had a
lot of conversations together. We developed a deeper connection during
his last years and I am grateful for those memories of our time
together.

When the last volume of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery was
published in 2004, I sobbed through it and, in fact, I couldn’t even
finish it – there was such a profound sadness for me in imagining how
my father must have coped with two such depressed parents.

For a young man in the prime of his life, it must have been an
overwhelming responsibility. I remembered our late-night conversations
and how he shared many memories, yet rarely talked about the burdens
he must have felt during his young adult life.

My heart aches for my father, who was left behind to deal with the
grief of losing his beloved mother. He carried the secret of the
circumstances of her death and maintained the façade of a proper and
well-adjusted family because of his desire to protect them and their
reputation in the community.

Reading between the lines

L.M. Montgomery’s most famous character, Anne Shirley, declared, “My
life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes,” and readers find it one
of Anne’s more endearing sayings.

That particular lament has always been especially significant to me as I imagine my grandmother must have felt the same sadness at times in her life. The fictional Anne
went on to happiness and a life full of love and fulfilment. My grandmother’s reality was not so positive, although she continues to inspire generations of readers with her books, which reveal her understanding of nature – both in matters of the heart and the world.

Although she was a very successful author, her life was overshadowed by her depression, coping with her husband’s mental illness and the restrictions of her life as a clergyman’s wife and mother in an era when women’s roles were highly defined.

Even though I never met them, I’ve always regarded my paternal grandparents with great affection because of their influence on my father and, therefore, on me. I grew up admiring their achievements, both professional and personal, through my father’s stories and reminiscences.

My heart aches for them, as well, because I know they were part of a generation that simply did not acknowledge personal dysfunction, let alone seek help.

I have great admiration for my grandmother, for her contribution to Canadian literature and culture, her strength of character, and the love, pride and sense of responsibility she gave to my family.

I am proud of her courage, given how isolated and lonely she must have felt during certain periods of her life. I wish that her family or community had had some of the tools that are available today. I expect that most families continue to be bewildered about how to help loved
ones who suffer from debilitating depression.

I hope that by writing about my grandmother now there might be less secrecy and more awareness that will ease the unnecessary suffering so many people experience as a result of such depressions.

An encouraging light

The recent Globe and Mail series certainly sheds an encouraging light on the notion of the “perfect” family, acknowledging that it may include the reality of depression and other mental illness, and suggests that the shame surrounding these subjects may be lifting.

I’ll never know if my grandmother might have been inclined to seek help if she had lived in a less judgmental era or if she had had access to supportive therapy or the medications available today. I would like to think so.

I long to tell her how I wish her family could have known how to help her and how proud we all are of her accomplishments. I also wish that, while my father was still alive, my family could have helped one another more by talking more openly about our feelings around her
death. We realize now that secrecy is not the way to deal with the reality of depression and other mental-health issues.

Kate Macdonald Butler is the daughter of Stuart Macdonald, who was the
youngest son of L.M. Montgomery.