A message from Richard Jock, FNHA Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Nel Wieman, FNHA Deputy Chief Medical Officer; and Sonia Isaac-Mann, Vice President of Community Health and Wellness and Programs and Services, FNHA
This message contains sensitive content and could be triggering. For crisis support here in BC, please contact the KUU-US Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717 / visit our Mental Health and Wellness Support page for additional support services.
Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Launched in 2002, the goal of the day is to raise awareness of the complex issue of suicide.
“For First Nations people, the topic of suicide brings up the intergenerational impacts of colonization and trauma. Dr. Nel Wieman has shared important information on understanding the signs and symptoms of suicide and reminded us that we need to build upon the collective and intergenerational strengths and resilience that we have as First Nations peoples." ~ Richard Jock
“I have often said that when someone is in distress, reaching out for help can seem impossible. That's why we need to reach out to each other to see how we're doing, check in with each other, even when everything seems to be okay, even when people say they're 'fine.' Continually reaching out is so important. We don't want to lose any more people to suicide. By reaching out, we all take responsibility for each other." ~ Dr. Nel Wieman
“Suicide impacts First Nations people and communities in many ways. The approaches to healing from historical and ongoing trauma need to be centered on First Nations cultures and healing modalities; ensuring that our people access the mental wellness supports that work for them and reduce the risk of suicide." ~ Sonia Isaac-Mann
Courageous Conversations to Reduce Loneliness and Isolation
Destigmatizing mental wellness for those who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts is at the centre of suicide-prevention work. We know that keeping feelings hidden and not talking about them can keep us sick and are not a part of our traditional ways.
In First Nations cultures, we share stories of adversity, resilience, culture, wellness, and our approaches to healing as a way to protect ourselves from big feelings of loneliness and isolation. We take time to connect to one another, the land, and the spirit world, and in ceremonies, to support our mental wellness and to support healing from the trauma we may have experienced or are experiencing. This connecting, along with having courageous conversations, keeps us well as a whole.
Connecting to Helpful Supports
Every community and individual has its own unique traditions, ceremonies, and medicines to help us work through challenging times. Sometimes we need additional support to promote healing, for example, contacting a counsellor / crisis line, or asking for immediate help at the hospital.
The path to mental wellness is unique to each individual and can include our traditional ways and accessing mainstream mental wellness supports. There's no shame in needing additional support. At the First Nations Health Authority, we have mental wellness supports you can connect with to enhance the cultural tools and supports that you have in your life.
Care for the Helpers in the Community
As helpers in the community, suicide can be a challenging topic to sit beside – you may find yourself being triggered by the information you are hearing or frustrated trying to navigate support for a community member. It is important to honour those feelings and take the time to take care of yourself. Some self-care practices may include:
KUU-US CRISIS LINE
Adult Crisis Line: 250-723-4050
Youth Crisis Line: 250-723-2040
Phone (toll-free): 1-800-588-8717