As young people across Canada return to in-person school this month, many are feeling mixed emotions. Some may be experiencing excitement and joy about being back in a space with their peers, while others may be feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. After two years of turbulence, these mixed feelings are expected.
What happens when those feelings of anxiety and despair are unaddressed is the problem. Young people may start to experience suicidal thoughts. In fact, according to the 2021 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 18% of Ontario students from grade 7 to 12 seriously contemplated suicide last year.*
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day – a day focused on raising awareness about suicide as a global public health crisis. In Canada, suicide is one of the leading causes of premature death among youth, and with accessible, low-barrier support, it is preventable.
Today, we focus on the who, what, why, how, and when.
- What is happening and what needs to happen?
- Who are the youth that we need to connect with to understand needs and challenges?
- Why are so many youth experiencing these thoughts?
- How do we raise awareness to policy makers, game changers, and the general public to make real changes in the system?
- How do we remove the stigma around mental health?
- When are changes going to happen?
We need to treat this as a health crisis today so that no more lives are lost to suicide.
The theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is “creating hope through action”. By raising awareness, reducing the stigma and implementing harm reduction and evidence-based support, we can be actively present and remind people that there is an alternative to suicide. We can create hope.
Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario spans across the province, offer services to all youth experiencing mental health challenges and suicidal thoughts. They can get the help they need and find hope for the future.
If you are personally experiencing suicidal thoughts, know that you are never alone. You are valued, and you deserve to be heard.
If someone you know is struggling, we can also help and offer resources. Local youth wellness hub offers mental health services. There are also crisis resources on our websites and in our social media bios.