Students of Ecole Mother Teresa in Sylvan Lake were visited by a member of Suicide Information and Education Services (SIES) from Red Deer, in order to to provide them with critical information on how to build self-esteem, deal with stress and other techniques that can help with the prevention of suicide.
Youth Education Coordinator for SIES, Della Graham brought this vital information on January 23 and 24.
“What we need to do is teach them is how to cope with things like stress,” she said. “Some of the things we teach them helps build resiliency. We teach them how to talk to adults and we make sure they have a safe person they can speak to. For the younger kids we talk about trusted adults and we talk about being able to talk about our emotions and feelings.”
She added being able to express their emotions and feelings to others is one of the most important tools in preventing thoughts of suicide.
“We build up right from kindergarten by talking about self-esteem, which leads all the way to this presentation about stress – which incorporates suicide awareness,” Graham said. “We try to give kids the skills they need to be able to look at suicide as a mental health issue. It also helps them be able to cope with stress in their lives.”
Knowing and compassionately understanding mental health disorders is key to de-stigmatizing suicide said Graham.
“A lot of questions are asked and we try to give them the language and the tools they need to be able to be comfortable having conversations about suicide,” she said “A lot of the time it can be isolation and mental health issues – one of the leading causes of suicide is that someone has depression. They don’t realize they can reach for help. We try to enable people to reach out for help and have conversations with them to help realize that mental health issues are okay.”
She added that normalizing depressive feelings can have a huge impact on de-stigmatizing suicide.
“We try to allow them to know there is help out there,” Graham said. “They can go to their trusted adult and talk to them or a lot of times, youth go to their peers first – so we try to educate the peers in what to do if their peers discloses information about suicide.”
She added that if someone is immediate danger, they should dial 911.
If you would like more information about suicide prevention, you can contact Suicide Information and Education Services at suicidehelp.ca or by calling (403) 342-4966.