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.


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

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

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.

  • Calendar

    • August 2019
      M T W T F S S
      « Mar    
  • Search