According to Crisis Centre BC, roughly 500 people die by suicide per year in B.C. It’s a troubling statistic and just one suicide has a far-reaching ripple effect on a community.
The people impacted first and the most are the closest to the deceased – friends and family. The physical space their loved one once inhabited is gone. A mother can no longer hug her son, daughter or partner. A father can’t play catch with his child or kiss his partner anymore. He no longer feels like making dad jokes.
Who can the best friend talk to now? Who is going to talk them out of stupid mistakes, or talk them into ones that are worthwhile?
The person’s co-workers and/or classmates are the next ripple. You notice that person you used to sit beside in class is no longer sitting there, whether you were friendly with them or stuck in that awkward “hi” and smile dance that occurs.
Teachers, bosses, church members, coworkers, club members, as well as the first responders and search crews are impacted by it. Even customers who drop in to buy a coffee or some food every now and then and are greeted by a smile and simple kind words.
Everyone wonders what they could have done. Why didn’t they see the signs? How come they didn’t share with me they were hurting?
These are all questions people ask themselves when someone dies by suicide.
It can also lead to vulnerable people to make the same decision.
According to a 2016 study, Exposure to Suicide in the Community: Prevalence and Correlates in One U.S. State, written by people from the universities of Kentucky, New England and Eastern Kentucky University, at least 115 people are impacted by a single suicide. One in five reported it either caused a major-life disruption or devastating impact.
The study’s conclusion was “exposure to suicide is pervasive and occurs beyond family; as such, it is imperative to identify those with perceived closeness to the decedent. This hidden cohort of suicide-exposed people is at elevated risk for psychopathology and suicidal ideation.”
While the study was an American one, it’s not unique. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death around the world. That said, it can also be preventable.
We all need to work on decreasing the stigma around it. Talk about it. Don’t isolate yourself in your pain, don’t let the people close to you do it either. Don’t let depression, sadness, hopelessness and anger grow inside of you. Access community, provincial and national hotlines.
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Hope for Wellness: 1-855-242-3310
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-885-2433
Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Youthspace: Text 778-783-0177 from 6 p.m. to midnight daily.