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Bob Layton: Suicide is like a ‘mental health heart attack’

WATCH ABOVE: In his latest editorial, Bob Layton talks about the issue of suicide.

This past week we observed Suicide Prevention Awareness Day.

It was a tender Tuesday for me, remembering the suicide stories I have done over the years.

READ MORE: Edmonton City Hall event to mark suicide prevention awareness campaign launch

When I started in the news business, nearly 50 years ago, we were told not to mention a suicide unless it happened in public. If it was at home, it was private and we were to leave it that way, unless it was someone whose name was known.

Then, in the 1970s, I got a call from some very upset high school girls. One of their friends was missing from class and there was a rumour she had taken her own life. They gave me her home phone number.

Could I find out for them?

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READ MORE: One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, WHO says

Nervous, I made that call and it was answered by a mother in tears. I asked the question and then Mom asked if we could do a tribute to her on the air, for her friends to hear. She then told me her daughter’s hopes and plans and dreams.

Heartbroken, Mom did not know why her daughter had taken her own life.

Today, we are learning more about why people choose this path but still don’t have all the answers.

The suicide notes I have been shown don’t even say why.

I’ve heard some blaming the departed for the anger or guilt a grieving family is going through.

I’ve also heard Edmonton City Councillor Scott McKeen quoting a priest who called suicide “a mental health heart attack” where the person loses all perspective.

As we try to learn how we can help, do you know someone who might benefit from a caring conversation or a hug today?

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS), available 24/7, at 1-833-456-4566. For more information on suicide and to find help nearest you, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

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Bob Layton is the news manager of the Corus Edmonton group of radio stations.