Trying to Make Sense When Suicide Happens

The St. Catharine’s GM family and community was recently affected by the death of a member who died by suicide. This has been a time of great sadness for all of us and we are still working through the emotions while trying to make some sense of what it means to each of us individually and as a community. It is impossible to know what to say to the loved ones, family and friends affected by this great loss but please know that our hearts are with you in this time of sorrow and grief. This is not the first time that this region has been touched by suicide. Far too often we are hearing of individuals taking their own lives. We may never have the answers or an understanding of why someone takes their life as the reasoning is often complex, but it is important that we talk about it.

Over the next several paragraphs I will give a brief overview of mental health in Canada, highlight some awareness initiatives made by CAMI’s Unifor Local 88/GM, discuss suicide and outline changes we can make in how we talk about suicide. I will also provide some warning signs that might signal someone being at risk of suicide and how we can help ourselves or someone who we are concerned about. Lastly, I have provided crisis lines and resources at the end of this article if you would like to learn more about suicide and mental health or if you, or someone you know, needs help.

If you or someone you know is in crisis call:

  • COAST: 1-866-550-5205, (press 1) (COAST provides services to people in the Niagara Region who are in crisis and have a mental health concern)
  • Access Line: 1-866-550-5205 (Press 2) (Mental health and Addictions)
  • Distress Centre Niagara: 905-688-3711

Mental health indirectly impacts every single Canadian.

1 in 5 Canadians will personally struggle with their mental health this year. It might be a short-term thing or something that an individual will struggle with their entire life. It is hard to answer the question “What causes mental health issues?” It is a complex combination of genetics, personality and environmental factors which determine one’s mental wellness. Almost half of people who think they suffer with depression or anxiety don’t seek help and go undiagnosed. Why do you think that is? Unfortunately, there is a stigma when it comes to admitting we have a problem, seeking assistance or talking about how we feel. Feelings associated with mental health and wellness may include embarrassment, weakness, and hopelessness. As stated above, we are all affected by mental illness in one way or another whether personally or with a friend, family member, loved one or coworker. We should try to be understanding of why people feel and act the way they do. We should not look down on or pass judgment upon someone who is struggling.

  • Mental illnesses can be treated effectively. There is hope.
  • Mental illness and the burdens we carry don’t need to define us.
  • Mental health is everyone’s responsibility.
  • We need to be better as a community and society to ensure that those who need help receive it.

Members Stories

Recently, CAMI’s Unifor Local 88/GM joint mental health committee conducted a survey about individual’s experiences with mental health. Employees anonymously shared their stories which were later complied into a video that was shared with the workplace. They received far more responses than expected which further solidified the fact that there is a need for more awareness. If you would like to view the video, follow the link below. There may be triggers so please be cautious if you choose to watch. Members Stories Video

A Survivors Story

Below is a link to a video about Kevin Hines who is an individual who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived and now he’s helping others. Kevin provides a real-life view of suicide and the affects that it has and provides hope for those who are having thoughts of suicide Kevin Hines Video – I jumped of the Golden Gate Bridge  Here is an article about Kevin’s story and how he is helping others today. Kevin Hines Article


Suicide is defined as the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. People who die by suicide don’t necessarily want to end their lives. They often want to stop significant or unbearable mental, emotional or physical pain. They want to end their suffering or put an end to a situation that seems overwhelming to them. They may feel hopeless, desperate and alone.

About 4,000 Canadians die by suicide every year. Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death among Canadians and the second-most common cause of death among young people. Most of these people are facing a mental health problem or illness. We often think of suicide in relation to depression, anxiety, and substance use problems, however, any mental illness may increase the risk of suicide. At the same time, suicide may not be related to any mental illness.

A huge part of suicide prevention is awareness. The more we talk about suicide and mental health, the more we lessen the stigma around asking for help.

When it comes to suicide, language is the key to caring and understanding non¬‐judgmentally and it is important to use the appropriate words as we all know how much words can hurt. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention outlines some examples and while there is no clear right or wrong way to talk about suicide, feedback from individuals who have experienced suicide suggest some changes.