Saturday, June 25, 2016

'Compassion'

As I stated in one of my previous rants (Rewind; Feb 27/16) my grade 11 and 12 years at Westmount Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario were, for the most part fun and enjoyable. I think an extremely high majority of my fellow classmates experienced some pleasurable good times, We 'showed up' to class, engaged in sports, socialized with our friends and other students and participated in drinking escapades on weekends at house or bush parties and bars...it was a good time.

Mental illness should never be overlooked. It should always be taken seriously, especially if an individual is encountering suicidal thoughts. A lot more teenagers are partaking in this horrible 'pastime' of attempted and completed suicides today than my generation did in my scholastic days.

Some of the contributors to teen suicide are bullying, depression, heredity, parents divorcing, relationship breakups, stress and substance abuse. Maybe all the anguish and despair in the world, as well as corrupt governments. and untrustworthy and dishonest politicians are also instrumental of why teens want to kill themselves...the future looks bleak, hopeless and unpromising...their fate is shattered into a million pieces.

The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) proclaims rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent, that they are now the group at highest risks in a third of all countries. An article in C.T.V. News (Oct.3/11) stated, in Canada, suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15 - 24 year-olds and is the second leading cause of death between the ages of 10 - 24. Woodstock Ontario has been faced with that horrible dilemma.

Woodstock is a city in Canada located in southwestern Ontario and has a population of 37,754 according to the 2011 Canadian Census. The city claims they are the dairy capital of Canada. The Woodstock Economic Development Dept. stated the average household income in 2006 was $64,523 (Canadian dollars).

The crisis started at the beginning of 2016. The Toronto Star reported (June 7/16) five people age nineteen years and under have killed themselves and according to the Woodstock Police Dept. thirty-six more young people have expressed suicidal thoughts or have actually attempted suicide in neighbouring communities.

Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not trying to be some sort of idiot comedian or buffoon, but, is there something in the water or is it the air they breathe...what is going on? We can ask the same question about the calamity that is happening in Northern Manitoba involving the Pimickmak Cree Nation. Both locales have different socioeconomic environments but either way you look at it, young people are killing themselves.

I honestly believe we didn't have the alarming rate of attempted and completed suicides back in my high school days. If that was the case it would only be kept 'hush hush' for so long because like any secondary school the hallways (and in my case the smoking area) were a wealth of information. Whether the stories were tall tales, rumours or hard facts, sooner or later we would receive the lowdown...they were superb 'data centres'. Overall attempted and completed suicides were extremely few and far between.

I do recall hearing about one suicide when I was fifteen years old. A friend of mine told me and his other buddies his sixteen-year-old female neighbour jumped off an overpass onto Highway 403 in Hamilton, Ontario, instantly killing herself.

I remember, just a few years ago, two seventeen-year-old boys committing suicide as stated by the Hamilton Spectator (June 22/12). They both jumped together off a transportation overpass called the Jolley Cut in Hamilton, Ontario and landed on the escarpment. Their cause of death was blunt force trauma due to descent from height. Supposedly both boys were best friends and said good-bye to their other friends via facebook and twitter before they took their lives.

Years ago I use to fill out death forms as one of my job duties so the death would be registered with the City of Hamilton. The funeral home representative would hand me the official death certificate which contained information such as the deceased's name, their address and a written autopsy by the Doctor. The document was an eight and one half inch by eleven inch white piece of thicker than normal paper. The paper had a distinct odor, almost like embalming fluid...fuck, I despised that part of my job.

Five will get you ten, I recorded at least one thousand deaths while I was employed at that position, however, one demise is still locked in my brain. It was a seventeen-year-old male high school student from Hamilton, Ontario. In the space titled cause of death,  the physician wrote the source ever so straight forward...suicide - shotgun blast to the face.

For those four adolescents, life must have been intolerable, filled with misery and gloom...such a waste of young and precious lives. It's so heart-rending these kids didn't want to live anymore...their pain must have been unbearable.

I worked in a psychiatric ward of a community hospital for two years, my title was a Psychiatric Assistant (P.A.). Prior to working at the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital (H.P.H.) with a schizophrenic and severely brain injured patient, I had no formal training or post-secondary education in psychiatric nursing...my head nurse told me the reason I was hired was I had good raw skills.

Some of my duties as a P.A. were assessment and monitoring of male and female patients and a case coordinator. I saw a wide range of mental illnesses such as Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, manic depression, schizophrenia, and suicide...suicide coincided with depression and manic depression.

For a lot of suicide patients, it was like the ward had a revolving door. They would be admitted, have their medications stabilized, attend therapy and then discharged only (in a lot of cases) to return again, some as many as seven or eight episodes.

One patient I recall was an eighteen-year-old male prostitute who 'worked' on the streets of Toronto. As I remember he made at least three appearances on the ward. Realistically he was a pleasant teenager. He complied with all the ward rules and never acted out. But once he was discharged the staff knew it wouldn't be long before he returned because of his suicidal thoughts or actual suicide attempt. As of this day I have no idea of his status...I hope he's alive and has a conventional job.

It's heartbreaking and traumatic when death makes a visit at any time and absolutely devastating and horrendous to have a family member pass away. Obviously, teenage suicide is no different. A lot of the times there are no warning signs...the parents receive that dreaded phone call and everyone's life changes forever. It's evident that the sadness and sorrow will always be there but sometimes the parents suffer and endure guilt asking themselves "I should have known" or "what did we do wrong?" or the simple question "why?". The smooth jazz song by Robert Sanae and The Crater Creek titled 'If You Only Knew' is fitting because sometimes the parents don't have any indication whatsoever what their child is contemplating.

Epilogue

Teenage suicide has been making the headlines for quite a few years now. This epidemic for our young people will exist for a lengthy duration. This is one time I really hope I am mistaken, but sadly enough I don't think I'm wrong...I wish I was.

The End
Harvenut Puritan

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