An Alberta mother took to the podium to share her own very personal experience with loss on Monday as the Community Interagency Suicide Prevention Council (CISP) hosted its annual event to mark World Suicide Prevention Day in Lethbridge.
“Twenty-four years ago, we lost our 14-year-old son to suicide,” Margaret Erickson said, adding that many people came into her life after to help her heal from the loss.
Erickson said she now aims to “make a difference” and help other people affected by suicide.
Erickson said when her family lost her son Stephen, they knew they wanted to talk about what happened rather than hide from it.
“I had a dream, the night that he died, of standing in a gymnasium and talking to kids,” Erickson said. “I had that same dream for 30 nights.
“So I knew that I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to go and talk to students. A year-and-a-half after, I got invited to speak to… Grade 8 classes.”
According to Alberta Health Services, more Albertans die by suicide each year than by motor vehicle collisions.
The event Erickson spoke at on Monday is aimed at bringing together the community by helping to start a dialogue and getting the message out that suicide is preventable.
“We are all responsible for suicide prevention,” said Brad Moser, a registered psychologist and family counsellor. “Just simply by reaching out and connecting to people we’re concerned about, or just helping people feel like they’re not alone.
“When people are depressed… feeling worthless, helpless and hopeless, they often isolate themselves. Suicide doesn’t have to be a taboo topic, we want people to talk about it.”
Erickson said she hopes those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide will use resources she said are more readily available now, compared to 24 years ago.
“I think there is so much that you can Google nowadays, that I hope if someone is struggling they can reach out and find someone to help them, and to not feel like they have to do it alone.”