Suicide – Diocese of Saskatchewan
When you visit the Synod Office in the Diocese of Saskatchewan you will see an area in the corner of a large bulletin board that is edged in black and covered in funeral cards. These cards are from the funerals of people who have committed suicide. Whenever one of the clergy officiates at a funeral of a person who has taken their life they are asked to bring the card into the office to put on the bulletin board. There are many cards there but they are only a small representation of the number of suicides committed every year.
In Saskatchewan 138 suicides were reported in 2011 and 5% to 25% more unreported. Suicide is the second highest cause of death. There are 1,686,485 people with thoughts of suicide many of them high school age and aboriginal.
On January 15 and 16, 2015, the Diocese of Saskatchewan held an ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop. There were 24 people in attendance for the two day session. Students learned the concepts of PAL (Pathway for Assisting Life). The first step is to explore invitations by observing a person’s actions, words, emotions and physical well-being. They are signs of distress that invite help, anything the person at risk says, does or makes you feel might be an invitation. Accept the invitation, follow your intuition and explore the meaning of things you see and hear. Next is to find a turning point (a reason to live) and to expand on this and follow through with a plan to keep the person safe from harming themselves. Students participated in role play exercises with input from the instructor and other students. This was an intense workshop that all students felt they benefited from.
On the first night a service was held in St. Alban’s Cathedral for the lighting of candles to remember victims of suicide and also for people who are thinking of suicide. At the Diocesan Synod delegates were given small pictures of a lit candle and asked to “light” the candle in memory of someone who committed suicide. These are the candles beside the funeral cards on the bulletin board. Suicide is a serious health problem worldwide. Any of us or someone we love could be at risk of suicide. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. No problem is so big that we cannot, with God’s help, find a solution and reach out to one another.