Jocelyn’s Jottings: How are you? Not good

Monday was Suicide Awareness Day.

I attended the candlelight vigil in Grizzly Plaza in memory of my two uncles and cousin who died by suicide as well as to honour and support those who are struggling.

Suicide is a tough thing to talk about, to think about, to process. But we all need to do it.

So here is my attempt.

My family has a history of depression. Before there were any conversations about mental health my grandmother would be unable to get out of bed for days on end because of the illness. From the stories I have been told by my dad and his siblings, there wasn’t a lot of sympathy from the other adults in her life, and there was a lot of confusion among her children.

But she survived to bake cinnamon buns and grow sunflowers with her grandchildren.

The conversation should have started there.

But it didn’t.

When I was 8 or maybe 9 years old one of my older cousins died by suicide. My parents told us he had gotten in a car accident. I didn’t find out until later what had actually happened.

The conversation could have started there.

But it didn’t.

At 17, or so, my mom woke me up for school one morning crying. Her brother had died the night before. I can remember drowsily asking how and upon learning he had died by suicide, why?

I went to school that day and my parents drove to the city. My aunt drove me home that night and we talked a little bit about it. I remember asking a second time, I just don’t understand why. She said something along the lines of, you can’t let that bother you, it isn’t something that we can understand.

The conversation could have started there.

But it didn’t.

At the beginning of 2016 my dad’s oldest brother died by suicide. I remember getting the phone call while sitting at my desk at the Pincher Creek Echo.

“Wait, what happened?” I said, or something along those lines, bringing my friend over from the office next door to see what was going on.

By then I had a better grasp of what it meant to have depression. I had taken a mental health first aid course at university, I had talked to people and taken classes, I had a better, if minimal, understanding about chemicals in the brain.

And so instead of “why” the question rolled back around to “how come we didn’t see it.”

So finally we talked about it. It wasn’t easy and there were misunderstandings, tears and anger.

And the process is still ongoing. We are still learning and healing and growing.

But we are talking about depression and suicide, because we need to.



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