Suicide Prevention Workshop being held in Duncan Sept. 18
When Robin Williams killed himself, the feelings of disbelief could be felt around the world.
People were in shock. Why would such a beloved, successful, and gifted actor and comedian take his own life? He was society’s poster boy for success.
Suicide is an issue that is hard to talk about and, for many, harder to understand. Every year more than 800,000 people die from suicide worldwide; roughly one death every 40 seconds. In 2012, it was estimated that for each completed suicide there were 27 others who made suicide attempts.
“When someone of the stature of Robin Williams commits suicide, it takes away the stereotype of who does it,” said Elizabeth Newcombe, executive director of the Vancouver Island Crisis Society and treasurer of the Crisis Line Association of B.C. “Many people experience suicide ideation, it’s more common than people think. It can be anyone, someone who on the outside appears happy, a comedian.”
His death, although incredibly tragic, has had an unexpected benefit: it’s brought the subject to the fore.
“Many people died by suicide that day, but we’re talking about Robin Williams,” Newcombe said. “What it’s done is created a discussion and conversation.”
That conversation will continue Sept. 18, when the VICS and Cowichan’s United Way host a workshop, called Creating New Conversations, on suicide prevention in Duncan from 9 a.m. to noon. Seats are limited so if you’re interested, visit www.vicrisis.ca for more information and to register. It’s one of many similar workshops they’re doing across Vancouver Island to mark suicide prevention day, Sept. 10.
At the workshop, which costs $25, the latest research coming from the 2014 American Association of Suicidology will be shared. In addition, Newcombe said, individuals who have attempted suicide but failed will share their personal stories, in person or by video.
“For years we’ve had doctors, teachers, and crisis line workers at our workshops; we failed to bring in those who had attempted suicide,” she said.
Suicide lives in secrets and in the darkness, Newcombe said. It is by connecting and talking to others that the chances of suicide decrease.
People wear masks, have personas and they hide their real feelings well. Williams for example, well loved for his incredible ability to make people laugh, battled depression and admitted to struggling with alcohol and drugs.
“People don’t want to share their thoughts and feelings, the challenge is to find a safe place....because it’s scary,” Newcombe said.
When people connect and talk to others the idea becomes less attractive.
Her organization receives 100 to 150 calls per day. Williams’ death has increased the number of people reaching out for help: for themselves, family or friends.
“People don’t have to go through it alone,” Newcombe said. “There are people out there who care, it’s about connecting.”
If you need help, call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line 1-888-494-3888.
What Suicide Prevention Workshop
When Sept. 18, 2014
Where The Silver Bridge Inn, 140 Trans Canada Highway
Tickets Online at www.vicrisis.ca