World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10, 2017. This is an important day to remember those who have died by suicide. It is also an important day to consider those left behind.

Statistics show that 165 Edmontonians died by suicide in 2013. For every person who dies by suicide, research indicates that 140 people are impacted. That means an astounding 23,100 Edmontonians were directly impacted by suicide that year. I wonder how they coped?

Our son Alex died by suicide in 2012. His story was included in the Edmonton Suicide Prevention Strategy report.

I would like to share some of the things that helped our family to cope after such a devastating loss.

1. Bereavement support
I attended one-on-one suicide bereavement sessions at the Support Network. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is now revisiting it’s suicide bereavement program, and I do hope they continue such one on one sessions.

2. Evening to Remember
Each year we attend an event for individuals and families whose loved one has died by suicide. It helps to be with others who have shared such a loss. This year the Evening to Remember will be on November 3 at 7pm at the Muttart Conservatory. It is free and does not require registration. The evening features live music, an art &/or photo exhibit, a flower ceremony, and stories by people who share how they are moving forward after a suicide loss.

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3. Online resources
I have found several helpful resources online for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. A Toolkit for Suicide Survivors will soon be available in Canada, as it is being produced by Mental Health Commission and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are two resources I have found useful.
After a Suicide: A Practical and Personal Guide for Survivors
Help is at Hand: Support after someone may have died by suicide

4. Memorial bench in Riverdale
We love visiting the ‘Alex’ bench here in our community of Riverdale. The City of Edmonton has a program called the Benchmark Program, whereby a family can have a memorial plaque placed on a city bench.


5. Advocacy for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention
Reaching out to others has been helpful to us. My husband Phil Haug is on the organizing committee for the Evening to Remember. I have been promoting a program for Men in the Trades called Tough Enough to Talk About It, as this article explains. Our daughter Cayley Thomas is writing, recording and performing music. Here is a recent song, dedicated to her brother, called “In A While” 

6. Connection with others
Alex lived for 24 years and we celebrate that every time we get to talk about him. If you know someone who has experienced the death of a loved one by suicide we hope you talk to them. Ask them how they are doing, and ask them to talk about their loved one if they can.

The official website for World Suicide Prevention Day day states: “It is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling, check in with them, and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace.”

On September 10, I hope you make an extra effort to reach out to someone.

Suicide prevention is an important issue in the City of Edmonton and across Alberta. On Monday, September 11 please join us for a conversation circle with the staff from the Grand Prairie Suicide Prevention Resource Centre as they present “Tough Enough To Talk About It”.

Where: Enterprise Square (downtown) Library
When: Monday September 11th, 6:00-7:30pm
Who: Everyone is welcome! This event has no cost to attend
Registration: EPL Website



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1 Comment
  1. Natalie Dyson
    2 years ago

    My dad died 9 years ago. The people at the support network where amazing. I love the progress that suicide awareness had made. Still lots to do but the conversations are happening. I went to the space and science center and bought a star. Bren back a few times punch in his name and there he is. On a clear night i can look up. Constellations Cepheus star Alfirk.


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