It’s a topic that touches so many lives, yet so rarely is openly discussed: suicide. To mark this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, which is Sunday, September 10, the Nuxalk Volunteer Suicide Response Team held a walk in downtown Bella Coola on September 8.
It is estimated that each day in Canada, 11 people end their life and 210 make a suicide attempt. Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, and ethnic boundaries.
For each death by suicide. It has been estimated that the lives of 7-10 bereaved ‘Survivors” are profoundly affected. This means that today in Canada 77-110 people will become newly bereaved by suicide. To be certain, suicide is a critical public health issue in Canada. In Canada suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death, with rates increasing over the past 60 years.
Males were three times more likely to die by suicide than females. This much higher rate of suicide for men compared to women has been a trend consistent over time in Canada. A recent World Health Organization study shows that young people are often at risk, and that suicide is the second largest cause of mortality in the 10-24 age group. However, there are different risk factors in different cultures.
In Bella Coola, the Nuxalk Volunteer Suicide Response Team (VSRT) is a unique organization that organizes preventive workshops and conferences, provides immediate on-scene crisis intervention, acts as liaisons between victims and emergency personnel and provide support and referrals to victims and families affected by death.
All members of the VSRT have received specialized training with a Mental Health Clinician provided by Vancouver Coastal Health. Any and all new members of the VSRT can expect to receive similar training as part of their joining the group.
While exact numbers on the rate of suicide in the Valley are not known, many people here have been affected by the death of a loved one due to suicide, and many people struggle with feelings towards ending their own life. The VSRT has been carefully crafted to deal with the many issues surrounding a person who is contemplating suicide and their families. The VSRT is under the support of the Nuxalk Health, and is ultimately responsible to the elected Nuxalk Nation Chief and Council.
The Walk was led by Nuxalk Hereditary Chiefs and attended by community members and students from Acwsalcta School. The VSRT took the time to recognize the contributions of Craig Love, who recently passed away. Love was a leading member of the team and was also adopted by the Snow family. His wife Joan was present to represent him and receive gifts on his behalf.
There are two numbers available for those who need help, whether it be related to their own feelings or concern for another. The toll free number is 1 877 796 5809 and the cell phone number (which people can also text) is 250 267 3057. Remember: you are not alone.