September 10, 2020

Compassion and Empathy Can Help Save a Life – World Suicide Prevention Day 2020

It was a beautiful late summer evening. I sat outside my quaint cottage in the rocky mountains sipping a glass of red wine while catching up on messages and communications from work. My husband had gifted me this time to reflect on our marriage, and to hopefully find some joy and passion again while being in nature with my camera.

I quickly went from enjoying the peaceful surroundings to dark thoughts. I repeatedly read over some emails. What may seem like insignificant comments, screamed out at me through the screen. “Minimal drama.” “Lightness.” “Buoyancy.” “Positivity.”

I am trying, I just can’t be that right now.

Tears welled up. That traumatic day came to the forefront. Did what happen to me not matter to them? How could they not acknowledge the position they put me in? Did the death of a close friend less than a month ago, go on deaf ears? I’m causing them way too much stress! Light, buoyant, positive is not who I am in this moment. Another glass should numb the pain. It didn’t.

I was spiralling down a deep dark pit of hurt, abandonment, isolation and shame. I’ll never be good enough. I’ll always be too much for people. I’m overweight and unfit, I’ll never fit it. What did I do wrong this time? This always happens to me. Why can’t I just stop being so open and honest? The self-sabotaging thoughts kept coming in swarms.

I typed up my resignation letter as I realized I could not be the person they wanted me to be at this point in time. As soon as I hit send, I crawled into the log framed bed, curled up in the fetal position, bawling my eyes out. I drank the rest of the red wine straight from the bottle.

It became too much to bare. I wanted the pain to stop.

I formulated a plan. With all the pieces in place I was ready to end it all. And then, I thought of my daughters.

I called my husband, hardly able to put a sentence together through the uncontrollable sobbing. 

“You need to come get me.” I continued to tell him my plan.

Neil is a Distress Centre Crisis Line Volunteer. So once again, Distress Centre played a part in saving my life. With his “Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) training, he was able to calm me down and take me from a place of irrational destructive thoughts and uncontrollable emotions to focusing on survival until he could reach me, which would take one and a half hours.

Three phone calls followed while waiting for Neil. The first was to my youngest daughter. To make sure she didn’t freak out too much about her Dad leaving late at night to come get me, I told her I’d had a bad anxiety attack. She experiences anxiety, so talking with her grounded me and brought me back to reality.

The second call was from my dear friend Gemma who was responding to my vulnerable cry for help via text. She listened. She shared. She asked questions – I’m so grateful she’s an incredible Psychologist. Gemma helped me feel heard and she acknowledged and helped me understand the impact of the traumatic experience six days earlier.

While talking with Gemma, my friend Corrie was frantically trying to reach me as I had also sent her the vulnerable cry for help. As a 911 Operator, she too has experience dealing with crisis. Once again, I felt heard, acknowledged, loved and supported. She remained on the phone with me till Neil arrived.

This all occurred on August 20, 2020, just three weeks ago today.

Thankfully there is a positive outcome to this story thanks to Neil, my daughter, Gemma, Corrie and Distress Centre. My Doctor and Psychologist have played a huge role in helping me heal. Hundreds of thousands of people aren’t as fortunate.

“Every year, 160 million people worldwide contemplate suicide and, tragically 800,000 of them die by suicide.

In Canada, 1/3 of deaths by suicide are among people 45-59 years of age.
Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention.

My story is just one of these statistics. In saying that, I’m not just a statistic. I am a human being who lives with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which historically occurs in August (along with January, April and October) and has had a traumatic and challenging six weeks.

Educating yourself about how to identify and help someone experiencing crisis could possibly save a life!

World Suicide Prevention Day is a chance for everyone to understand and learn about suicide – those impacted by a suicide attempt or loss, family or friends, charitable organizations, professionals, politicians, volunteers and community members.

The theme for #WSPD2020 is Working Together to Prevent Suicide.

Compassion and empathy can help turn things around for someone going through troubled times.

In Calgary, Distress Centre provides critical support to people in crisis. They provide a 24 hour crisis line, ConnecTeen provides peer text support for teens, and they provide free counselling. Distress Centre needs your support to continue helping people in crisis. September is Lend An Ear month, and they’re hoping to raise $25,000 to continue providing much needed support to people in crisis.

A $65 donation sponsors one week of text messaging traffic for youth to have a safe place to reach out to.

A $125 donation sponsors one online chat shift.

A $150 donation sponsors an overnight shift from midnight to 7:00am.

A $250 donation puts one volunteer through Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) training – the same training my husband has done and likely helped save my life!


Mental Illness. Grief. Trauma. Crisis. They don’t discriminate. They can affect anyone at any time. Please learn how you can do your part in helping others deal with challenging times and crisis and hopefully you can play a part in preventing suicide.

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

International Association for Suicide Prevention