Raising awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Flags will be flown at half-mast Thursday as the city of Sherbrooke, the Service de Sherbrooke Police (SPS), and JEVI Centre de prévention du suicide – Estrie team up to support World Suicide Prevention Day.
JEVI is a community organization that promotes better living and suicide prevention in the Eastern Townships. Last year, the centre organized its first walk for suicide prevention in the region generating roughly 100 supporters and over $32,000 in donations.
Another walk is being held this year, but due to the pandemic people are not be allowed to gather in the same location. The organization is asking participants to walk in their neighbourhood with family, friends or colleagues.
Isa Abraham, JEVI’s communications director, said people can send photos of their walk to the organization, which will be posted on the official website later in the day. She also told The Record that once again they’re inviting people to light a candle for the cause.
The candle is a symbol of reflection and hope, which is something people need, especially during these difficult times, Abraham added, and isolation and physical distancing could have a negative impact on distress levels when it is all said and done.
“What can happen with isolation is people who normally have resources, well, they have less access, so they feel more isolated,” said Abraham. “We think that the isolation we’ve seen could elevate a person’s distress.”
Unfortunately, JEVI doesn’t have exact numbers reflecting the impact of the pandemic of suicide rates. It normally takes a few years in order to compile the data, Abraham explained, but the bottom line right now is that suicide remains a taboo in society.
The organization was lucky, she continued, because to a certain extent they were able to keep their doors open. Almost the entire intervention team remained on-site with some people choosing to work from home.
The website states that the team has made nearly 19,000 interventions in the last year. But the numbers stayed stable throughout the pandemic, according to Abraham. They didn’t see any irregular spikes or an uptick in calls to the centre.
Abraham said the only that changed was face-to-face meetings with people in distress. They weren’t able to communicate with people in person due to provincial health measures. However, JEVI started doing in-person meetings again roughly two weeks ago.
“Talking about suicide could save a life, which is why this is so important,” Abraham said. “The limit around suicide is really because there are people suffering alone and who won’t go get help out of fear of being judged by others.”
Abraham wants to get rid of the stigma around suicide and she believes it will take a combined effort to eliminate it. While this is JEVI’s second annual event, it’s the 18th edition of World Suicide Prevention Day. This year the message is about working together to prevent suicide.
According to a press release from the centre, everyone has a role — media, citizens, elected officials, colleagues, friends and family. In an effort to raise more money for the cause, JEVI has partnered with several IGA’s in the Eastern Townships.
They’ve been collecting donations since August 31, but the campaign ends on September 11. For more information about JEVI and its range of services in intervention and training, visit www.jevi.qc.ca.

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