When asked the question, what makes life worth living, some of the answers you might hear are a loving and supportive relationship, meaningful work and involvement in hobbies, opportunities for fun and play, and the ability to pursue your dreams.
However, there are circumstances that may prevent people from having these opportunities and gaining the belonging, acceptance and recognition we all need.
These circumstances may include poverty, unemployment, discrimination and limited services available when they need help.
Many of these challenges create stressful conditions and, over time, they also create poor mental health. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that suicide claims the lives of more than 3,500 people in Canada a year and 500 of those deaths are young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among our young people in Canada and this fact leads me to ask what can we do to support all youth in building lives worth living?
This is true prevention but there is no one easy answer. We can begin by understanding the factors known to increase the risk of suicide and poor mental health, as well as the protective factors — those things that help people cope with difficult situations.
By understanding the important role protective factors play, communities can start to identify ways to create opportunities to develop resiliency in youth and give them something to look forward to.
Community factors that promote resiliency in youth include opportunities to build coping and problem-solving skills, dependable adults and role models, access and transportation to different recreational activities, strong family support and involvement, community and cultural ties, positive and safe school environments and opportunities to be involved in decision making processes that effect them.
On Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, events will take place across Canada and around the world to promote suicide awareness and prevention.
This year, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention in partnership with LivingWorks Education has chosen as its theme, “Building Suicide-Safer Communities.” Be on the lookout for World Suicide Prevention Day events happening in your community.
And remember, help is available. If you or someone you care about is currently in crisis, call 1-800-SUICIDE or visit the following websites for information: http://www.crisiscentre.bc.ca and http://youthinbc.com/.
Jenny Turco is a population health facilitator with Interior Health.