An Alberta MP gave a powerful speech in the House of Commons this week, opening up about the death of his daughter in hopes of encouraging others to speak about the aftermath of suicide.
Calgary Signal Hill MP Ron Liepert spoke during a debate on Bill M-174, the national suicide prevention strategy.
Thursday marks one year since Liepert received a call from his wife saying their 45-year-old daughter had died by suicide.
“It’s a call that no parent should ever have to receive,” he said, noticeably emotional.
“Suicide is not an easy issue to talk about, but hopefully if at least one person hears our words today and decides not to act, it will be time well spent.”
Liepert said he’s been approached by many people in the past year who shared their stories of losing loved ones to suicide, and he encouraged those listening to be more open to talking about suicide and the reality of the emotions one can feel if they’ve been left behind.
“I think of my daughter and I think of someone who never wanted to hurt anyone or anything,” he said, holding back tears.
“In fact, she would get very angry when hearing on the news of a person or an animal being abused or mistreated. So we have to ask ourselves, ‘Why would she hurt everyone around her by taking her own life?’ Obviously, that never occurred to her.”
He said suicide isn’t only a mental-health issue, some are brought to that decision through a myriad of struggles, adding that putting more money into the situation isn’t the only answer.
He said education is where it needs to start, and he’d like to see the topic talked about at the grade school level, getting kids’ attention when they’re young and impressionable. He said suicide is a selfish act and said he doubts his daughter ever thought of it that way.
“I think if a young person is made aware of that hurt and pain, it may change future decisions,” he said. “If a young person realized that nothing they ever did in their life made a parent more angry, they might not make that decision.
“We can’t be afraid to open up about our hurt, pain and anger. And we can’t think that because our daughter chose this action, it somehow brought shame on our family. We need to get over those feelings of guilt and anger and help others.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
In Alberta, AHS offers a toll-free 24/7 mental health help line by calling 1-877-303-2642.