The Suicide Epidemic On University And College Campuses


***May Be Triggering***

I try not to divulge too much information about my family as I have always said that their stories are not mine to share but today I feel like I need to share maybe a teeny bit in order for others to feel like they are not alone. 

I’ve witnessed my child breakdown in his first year of University upon coming to the realization that the program he had worked so hard to get into was not in fact what he wanted for his future.  I’ve witnessed my child begin to panic about her future 3 years into her degree upon realizing that she needs to start figuring out what she wants to do with the rest of her life sooner rather than later and I am now witnessing my child in grade 12 feverishly working day and night on several different art portfolios in order to submit them to various schools in the next 7 weeks in hopes of being accepted into her dream program for next September.

I’ve witnessed holes being punched into walls, I’ve witnessed overwhelm, I’ve witnessed sadness, I’ve witnessed anxiety and panic, I’ve witnessed silent cries for help, I’ve witnessed disappointment, I’ve witnessed frustration, I’ve witnessed fear, I’ve witnessed anger and I’ve witnessed vulnerability in the last several years.  As a parent this is truly heartbreaking when you are left feeling helpless to their pain and knowing that all you can do is try and lift them up, guide them and hope that everything will be okay even though you can’t really know for sure. 

For many of our youth today we may not be enough especially when they are living remotely in another city, province (state) or even further. Many are often too scared to ask for help for fear of being judged or ridiculed by their Professors, their peers or even their own families and for those who do find the strength to reach out for help are often being turned away because our University and Colleges don’t have enough supports in place to handle the growing epidemic on campuses both near and far.  

Over the last several years I have listened closely to other frightened and concerned parents tell me about their child’s feelings of overwhelm, their anxiety and their depressive behaviours due to the pressures and frustrations of University, many of whom may be living away from home for the first time and are also feeling vulnerable and abandoned by the lack of programs and supports in place for them. And sadly I have also read countless stories about yet another child who took their own life because they may have succumbed to that said pressure and frustration.

Our youth are under too much pressure today feeling the need to keep up with their peers and sometimes there is a huge feeling of pressure when trying to satisfy their parent’s expectations of them and of course there is the pressure from society in general who often imply that a University degree is the be all and end all. It seems like every other week I am reading another story about another suicide on our University campuses, including this past week and it is beyond devastating. 

Last month I read a news article about a University of Toronto student who had reached out for help when she was experiencing suicidal thoughts just days after news broke that another student at their sister campus had taken their life. The way in which the mental health support team handled the situation left this student feeling more like a criminal and even further traumatized when she found herself being handcuffed and arrested by the campus police for divulging the location in which she had planned to die. 

The University of Toronto just made the top 20 list of the best Universities in the world! Not just in Canada, not just in North America but the entire fricken world!! That is quite an incredible feat and although they deserve it for excelling in teaching, research and international outlook, they are more than lacking in the area of compassion for mental health.

But they are not alone as there is not enough training and support to go around for the amount of students in crisis and in need of urgent care. This student was told right before the mental health support worker called the police for fear she may harm herself or someone else that it will most likely take several months for her to see a doctor/therapist.  Something needs to be done and fast! How many more students have to die before proper support is put into place to help them? We need to do better, I know we can.
Please continue to follow my journey at: 
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
#itsoktonotbeok #youarenotalone #startaconversation #dontsufferinsilence #yourmentalhealthmatters #endthestigmatogether #youareenough #bekindtoyourself #checkonyourlovedones #depressionkills #anxietyisreal #suicideprevention #mentalhealth #mentalwellness #advocateforchange #ouryouthdeservebetter Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Being An Advocate Through Lived Experience

It’s no secret that I am extremely passionate about Mental Health and over the last few years I have become more and more vocal about it, however, I often feel like I’m a fraud, a fake or even an imposter. I mean how can I begin to make changes to the way in which mental illness is looked upon by so many if I don’t have a degree in Psychology (I do have one in Sociology though!) or how can I make others understand that mental illness does not discriminate against anyone if I don’t have a degree in Psychiatry, or how can I make someone feel safe enough to take off their mask and start a life changing conversation if I don’t have some other kind of degree in healthcare? Well I guess the simple answer is; I have something way more valuable to offer because I have lived experience.

I may not have figured out yet how to help myself, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers but being able to openly and honestly share my story knowing that someone out there feels less alone or that someone out there shows more compassion toward a loved one who is suffering with a mental illness or that someone out there no longer judges another person because of their mental illness then I am happy to be that poster child who can help advocate for change and help end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Being able to connect with so many people (both young and old) during what has been the most challenging part of my life can be quite liberating and cathartic for me but often times after I share a blog or post something on Social Media is when I feel most like a fraud, a fake and an imposter. I mean how can I spread hope to others when I myself feel so hopeless or how can I tell someone their life is worth living when I don’t feel like mine is?

But when I am able to calm the anxiety and negative self-talk down a level or two and realize that I don’t need to be “better” or “cured” or “recovered” to help someone else feel less alone or to support them or their loved ones along their journey or to feel empathy and compassion toward others who feel just as hopeless or worthless as me because we share that mutual understanding and bond that goes beyond what any textbook can give us.

Our lived experiences may all be unique to each one of us but having the strength to share our stories together can make the greatest impact of all!

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