What do NFL football star Junior Seau, pro wrestler Chris Benoit and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have in common?
If you said “they were all hugely successful,” you’d be correct, but that’s not the answer we’re looking for.
Whether crushing quarterbacks, delivering body slams or kicking some serious butt in the kitchen, they were all tough, strong dudes, but again, that’s not it.
The grim fact, in all three cases, is that these “masculine celebrities” committed suicide. About 4,000 Canadians of all ages and backgrounds die by suicide. This works out to an average of almost 11 suicides a day, making it one of the most common causes of premature death for men in Canada.
On September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day promotes understanding of suicide and effective prevention. It highlights the fact that suicide occurs across all age, economic, social and ethnic groups. The pain that leads individuals to take their lives is unimaginable, and their deaths leave countless family members and friends bereaved and their communities shattered. As we’ve seen so many times, even people who appear happy and successful are at risk. So, how do we stop suicide?
Know the Signs
A serious physical or mental illness, or a bout of depression, are three of the more obvious signs that suicide is lurking. But it can be more subtle than that. If you notice a friend, family member or co-worker acting in any of these ways, they may be reaching out for help:
- They are abusing drugs or alcohol.
- They are experiencing a major loss, such as the death of a loved one, job loss or divorce.
- They make remarks about death, dying or suicide.
- They make repeated expressions of hopelessness, helplessness or desperation.
- They start giving away prized possessions.
- The start making preparations for death, such as taking out insurance, writing a will or talking about final wishes.
How to help
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to talk to the person about their situation. This may not be easy, so here are some tips that could make YOU a life-saver:
- Make sure you listen without judgement. It is important that the person feels heard and able to express themselves freely.
- Be honest about your concern for the person.
- If possible, go with the person to get help. Crisis Centres, which are open 24 hours a day, are great places to start. Tell me more about suicide prevention.
- Stay in touch with the person to see how they are doing.
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.