Men’s support group talks stress, isolation and suicide

‘If it wasn’t for this group, I would have ended my life’

Men commit suicide at three times the rate of women, often using more dangerous means in their attempts.

“This has been a tough year economically and we have seen that reflected in some of the statistics,” says Lianna Chondo, a social worker for the City of Edmonton and a member of the Edmonton Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee. “The suicide rate in Alberta jumped by 30 per cent in 2015. Layoffs are definitely a significant stressor, especially for those in oil based industries.”

Christian Guinez, a social worker that runs men’s support groups for the City of Edmonton, says men usually identify themselves with their career first. “When that structure or job is taken away, men begin to isolate themselves and can sometimes act in ways that become destructive for themselves or others.”

Christian Guinez, City social worker

Christian Guinez, City social worker

A gentleman that goes by the initial B, started attending the Men’s support group two years ago and isn’t scared to share his story at the start of a session with newcomers. He openly shares that the group saved his life when he felt the only option was suicide. Each week he knew he could get through because the group would be there. A place where he could connect with other men going through similar circumstances that genuinely cared about each other.

“What ends up being a great reward for me is seeing the success of each of these men that move on to become mentors and role models to their friends, coworkers and family. They can identify the warning signs in other men and share their stories about the group, while encouraging them to get help,” says Christian.

The City’s Family and Community Supports section offers groups and individual counselling for men unable to access other supports, regardless of background or age.

In 2015, The City of Edmonton convened the Edmonton Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee (ESPAC) which is composed of a number of community agencies and organizations, including Alberta Health Services, to develop a suicide prevention strategy. Emergency telephone boxes were also installed on the High Level Bridge to prevent suicide and have dispatched over 23 calls between July and October 2015.

If you or someone you know is having depressed or suicidal thoughts, please call the Distress Line at 780-482-HELP (4357).  In an emergency situation, always call 911 first.

To speak privately with a City social worker, please call 780-496-4777.

Every March, social workers across Canada recognize National Social Work Month to acknowledge the important contributions they make to our society. City of Edmonton social workers decided to use this opportunity to discuss four topics in a blog series. The series will the walk you through domestic abuse, suicide prevention, innovation and the City’s drop-in group services. The series will showcase one blog post a week for the month of March. The City of Edmonton celebrates our social workers and their contributions to making Edmonton a safer more vibrant city for all. Last week’s post is available here.


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1 Comment
  1. Gilbert Gosselin
    3 years ago

    I have retired from teaching and later on I am facing divorce.

    It’s devastating.


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