This is the text of an article I had published in the Edmonton Journal on Sept 11, 2010
It's time to banish taboos and talk openly about the pain of suicide.
Encourage the expression, not repression, of emotional vulnerability
Susan Anderson, Freelance
Published: Saturday, September 11 2010
Both from personal experience and as a suicide bereavement counsellor, I know that losing a loved one to suicide pulls those left behind onto a painful journey. Grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide is heart-wrenching, exhausting and complex.
Mourners sometimes feel the pain of their grief so acutely that they themselves have become suicidal. Many find that by expressing and sharing their painful feelings of grief, they honour their loved ones, and further their own healing.
The pain of unattended loss is a large factor in suicide. In suicide support group circles, we say that when a suicide goes unacknowledged, it remains like the unspeakable "elephant in the room." The stigma of suicide stands in the way of expressing our grief and loss in healthy ways. Stigma blocks our capacity to properly deal with the emotional pain of any sort. Our letting the elephant out of the room results in a spaciousness that allows people to share openly and honestly the pain of loss around suicide.
I feel inspired to know that on World Suicide Awareness Day, a space in the heart of our fair city serves to allow its citizens to speak publicly and openly about suicide. On Friday, the ninth annual Lifting the Silence Suicide Awareness March brought Edmontonians together at City Hall and Sir Winston Churchill Square to honour the memory of hundreds of gifted and beloved Albertans, and to raise much-needed awareness around the cause of their tragic deaths. May it serve to increase our collective will to provide better healing support for persons who suffer from depression, grief, and other forms of mental pain.
By marching, we as a community move forward in our awareness and our commitment to reduce suicide rates in Edmonton, around the province, across Canada, and all around the world.
Susan Anderson is a suicide awareness programs counsellor at the Support Network in Edmonton. The organization offers many no-fee services including: bereavement support, support to caregivers of suicidal persons, and walk-in counselling Monday through Friday. The 211information line, and the confidential line 780-482-HELP, a re open around the clock.