New local resource available to help prevent suicide

Tara Jeffrey

Community leaders hope a new resource for dealing with suicide will spark conversation and draw attention to local supports available for those struggling.

“If you never mention the word ‘suicide’ no one is going to talk about it,” said Sharon Barry Ross, a longtime member of the Sarnia Lambton Suicide Prevention Committee.

“It’s still really hard for people. You can walk into the doctor’s office and say, ‘My back hurts,’ but it’s not easy for people to say, ‘You know what? I’m really sad.’”

Committee members have partnered with a number of agencies and organizations on a new protocol to provide consistent information to help local residents of all ages navigate the mental health system as it relates to suicide.

The document contains the most up-to-date mental health and emergency resources locally, as well as tips on supporting someone who is suicidal, what happens at the hospital, and what supports are available when suicide does occur.

“We just wanted to touch on a few of those topics in there — grief, self-care — the role that Victim Services plays as well,” said Barry Ross, pointing to the Victim Quick

Response Program, which funds Tragic Circumstance Assistance to assist with the cost of cleanup in the immediate aftermath of a suicide.

“We’re also trying to bring to light a lot of those new resources.”

She pointed to local grief programs like ‘SOS – Survivors of Suicide,’ and the Suicide Loss and Support Group through the Rapids Family Health Team.

“There have been a lot of changes in services, especially in the last five years, which has been a good thing.”

Some 2,000 copies of the resource have been printed and will be distributed locally to Bluewater Health, school boards and social service agencies.

The document will also be available through the website, sarnialambtonsuicideprevention.com.

“There’s a company in town that’s looking to make it available to all 1,500 of their employees,” Barry Ross noted. “People will be able to see it and go through and find some things that might be helpful to them.

“There’s some good things happening, and we’ve just got to stay the course.”