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Every day, individuals, groups, and communities dare to talk about suicide with people around them. Some do so because they have experienced suffering and want to prevent others from suffering in turn. Others do it because they believe it’s possible to live in a society that refuses to accept suicide and helps those in distress regain hope.
For this edition, multi-talented artist Hubert Proulx has agreed to be a spokesperson for the cause by getting involved in Suicide Prevention Week. As someone who is deeply sensitive to mental health issues, he conveys the importance of supporting one another and reaching out for help when needed.
We live in a society that emphasizes the notion of performance. When I went through a dark and difficult period in my life, my biggest regret is that I didn’t dare talk about it and ask for help. I was scared of what people might think, especially of being condemned for my so-called weakness, and of losing my job as an actor.
It’s important to normalize asking for help because we are not, in fact, alone. We are together and when we keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to others, we can save lives.
Suicide Prevention Week 2023 Ambassador
Photo credit : Eve B. Lavoie
I made myself a promise that I would never again lose someone to suicide. It brought me to change my behaviour: sharpening my attention to be more vigilant, developing tricks to help encourage sharing, opening my mind, but most of all, being perseverant.
The grief, questions, and regrets are too much… It isn’t possible to go back in time for those I’ve lost, but I can still change things for those who are still here and need help.
As long as I can remember, I have lived through traumatic experiences. I have always conditioned myself to go on alone, without asking for help. I would add my problems to my backpack and move forward. One day, I collapsed under its weight and I fell into a major depression. The internal and physical pain was horrible and I isolated myself. For fear of being judged, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help. This brought me to the point of attempting suicide. I understood then that I had to face my problems, but with the appropriate help, I am all the more successful.
We’re often afraid of the word “suicide”. It’s taboo, it’s grim. Yet, since working in suicide prevention, I’ve realized how much saying/writing it is liberating: putting woes into words allows us to open the door to another person. We allow them to share the weight, talk about it directly, without judgment, rather than leaving them alone in their distress.
My work influences me daily. I feel more and more at ease talking about mental health with those around me and asking the simple and necessary question: “are you thinking about suicide?”
The gatekeeper training helped me talk about suicide. When I notice someone in distress, I ask them how they are and take the time to listen to them. I create a safe space for them because I want them to trust me. I ask them if they have suicidal thoughts. Every time, my heart stops. When I ask if I can contact 1 866 APPELLE so that they can receive the help they need, 100% of the answers are positive. The counsellor on the phone automatically takes the person on the end of the line in charge. I work hard so that the word suicide will one day no longer be taboo.
After my brother’s suicide, I decided to get involved in suicide prevention to help others and further the cause. Everyone around me knows I am committed to this cause and often times they ask for help or advice. That’s how one night, my friend wrote to me telling me she was thinking about suicide. I was able to accompany her and help her consult professionals. Talking to me saved her life and allowed her to experience moments of joy today. I work every day to prevent suicide.