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Kids Help Phone counsellors are available to talk about suicide for World Suicide Prevention Day

Toronto, Sept. 6, 2011 – September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and Kids Help Phone wants to help parents everywhere to understand youth suicide.

“It’s common to assume that if someone close to us is having suicidal thoughts, that we’ll just know it – that it will be obvious,” says Alain Johnson, Clinical Director French Language Services at Kids Help Phone. “This is a misperception, as is the belief that only those with pronounced mental health or addictions issues become suicidal. The reality is that suicidal thinking isn’t always easy to spot, and that people that don’t have identified mental health issues can also become suicidal.”Though suicidal thinking in others is not always obvious, there are some common warning signs that can indicate whether a child is at risk.

For a parent, knowing that a child is suicidal is incredibly difficult. In addition to the struggle of knowing their child is suffering, parents might feel judged or blamed, or at fault for how their child is feeling. It’s important for parents to know that they don’t have to go through this alone.

Kids Help Phone is here to help young people, and our professional counsellors are also available for media interviews to offer information and tips for parents.

Why we want to talk about suicide

World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual event, held every September 10, when organizations, governments, and individuals from around the world work together to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

– Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents.

– As reported by Statistics Canada, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Canada: The number of lives lost to suicide is equivalent to one large aircraft crashing every month—about 300 people every 30 days.

– Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world.

– 3% of the contacts Kids Help Phone receives are about suicide, including thoughts of death, plans to die, previous suicide attempt(s) and loss of another due to suicide.

This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day theme is “Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies.” Kids Help Phone is committed to culturally safe and appropriate counselling. Counsellors are trained to provide sensitive counselling to a diverse youth population, and are also able to refer clients to culturally-specific services when appropriate. Through an extensive database of almost 37,000 community and social services, counsellors can provide callers with all the available options to help them make their own decisions in keeping with their own values and culture.

Kids Help Phone is also member of Child Helpline International (CHI). With members in 134 countries CHI is the global member network of child helplines, working to protect the rights of children, providing a platform to communicate, network and share expertise with other child helplines and policy-makers.

And throughout 2011, Kids Help Phone has also been working to gain a deeper understanding of the realities Aboriginal youth are facing. Suicide rates of Aboriginal youth (aged 15 to 24) are eight times higher than the national rate for females and five times higher than the national rate for males.

What can parents do?

Talking to a young person about suicide can be difficult.

“Adults can sometimes minimize or invalidate a kid’s feelings when they hear them say something like, ‘I just want to die’,” Johnson says. “But then there are kids who won’t talk about suicide directly, so sometimes parents have to read between the lines. That’s why it’s important to talk to your kids about suicide.”

Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors are available for interviews to share tips on how to become more attuned to signs that a child in your life might be struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, and how to start a discussion with them about these challenging topics.

About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s leading youth professional counselling service, moving kids from distress and isolation to confidence and competence. Available anytime of the day or night, in English and French, by phone and by web, it is the go-to resource for kids in Canada from five to 20 when they need help or trustworthy information on issues that are difficult to discuss with anyone else. Providing a service that is free, anonymous and confidential, Kids Help Phone is a respected charity, vitally dependent on individual donations and corporate support to remain available to kids looking for help; sometimes looking for a lifeline.

For further information:

To set up an interview about suicide prevention

Please contact Liz Worth, Communications Coordinator:
1-800-268-3062 ext. 8955
[email protected]