Mandatory suicide prevention education at WHL: ‘They want the kids to win, but they also want the kids to be OK’
The Western Hockey League is actively educating all of its young players on suicide prevention, and a member of the Prince Albert Raiders knows first-hand how important that is.
Defenceman Loeden Schaufler lost his dad to suicide when he was just 16 years old.
“When it happened… I didn’t want to play anymore. I had just given up,” Schaufler said.
Life for Schaufler hasn’t been the same since.
“He was my role model, I did everything for him,” Schaufler added, saying his father is the reason he plays hockey. It’s little things like finishing a game and thinking about his dad that hurt the most.
“I would call him after every game, so that was tough to adjust to,” Schaufler said.
It’s a tough topic to talk about, but conversations like this are important to have. As Schaufler uses his story to spread awareness, his league is ensuring all players are trained in suicide prevention techniques.
Kevin Hodgson teaches many of the SafeTalk suicide prevention workshops for the WHL, most recently to the Calgary Hitmen.
“It’s really like first aid,” Hodgson said. “If you see someone who is in trouble, the best person to help is the one who’s right there.”
The workshops teach young athletes that preventing suicide is not something you have to do alone.
“Your job is to just simply find out what’s going on and bring in the people who can help,” Hodgson said.
The mandatory program, put on in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, sends a clear message from the WHL.
“They want the kids to win, but they also want the kids to be OK,” Hodgson continued.
For Schaufler, some days just aren’t OK. Having a roster of support helps.
READ MORE: WHL Round Up: February 24, 2019
“After a tough game they always bring you up,” Schaufler said. “When you’ve got good teammates it makes things a little easier.”
The 19-year-old knows preventing suicides is a team effort.
“Just don’t be afraid to talk to somebody, and seek help,” Schaufler continued. “Wven if you have somebody struggling and you don’t know what to do… seek help for that. You can never be too tough to come out and talk about your mental struggles.”
Where to get help
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, 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.
Alberta also has a 24/7 mental health help line that can be reached at 1-877-303-2642.
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