Every year, some 4,000 Canadians take their own lives. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 34. Sadly, for those struggling with their mental health, it can feel like suicide is the only option. But Operation Lifesaver’s (OL’s) new suicide-prevention public-awareness campaign is reminding Canadians that help is only a phone call away.
The Today is Better campaign consists of 11 poignant and hopeful videos (six English and five French) featuring the personal stories of Canadians who’ve experienced suicidal thoughts, but found help. Jaylene Delorme is one of those survivors. The Yellowknife woman first tried to take her life when she was just 12 years old. For much of her life, she struggled with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, and addictions. But she’s proof that life can get better—if you reach out. Here’s part of her story:
What was the first sign that you had mental health issues?
The first sign was when I was 12 years old. I struggled with my relationship with my mom, to the point where I would take off from home. At one point, I tried to overdose and ended up in the hospital. I was 12 years old and I just felt like I had no future. I had nothing to look forward to and my life wasn't going anywhere.
Shortly after that, I started getting heavily into smoking weed, taking off with my friends for days on end, at times weeks, and not listening to my parents. Then I started drinking and getting into heavier drugs, to the point where I ended up 1,500 kilometers away from home in a young offenders’ facility and treatment center at 14 years old.
What was the turning point for you? When did things start to get better?
I lost my auntie in 2010. She overdosed on pills. That was one of the hardest things that I did go through. I was actually in a young offenders’ facility and I was isolated in the North, away from anyone I knew. I had gone through my own suicidal ideations—of not wanting to live—but I couldn't understand why anybody else would take their own life. I couldn't understand why anybody else would want to put that pain on their family, on the people they cared about.
It made me look back on what I was doing to my family when I tried to take my own life. I couldn't imagine putting my mom, my siblings, my nieces and nephews through that. Now, I couldn't imagine taking my own life. I look back, and even though I didn't realize it at the time, I had so much to live for, so much potential, and so much still to learn.
How did you get out of that dark place, to where you are today?
I started talking to people. There was a psychiatrist that I started seeing regularly. He equipped me with tools that I could use when I felt hopeless, when I felt like I didn't want to be around anymore, or when I felt like I was going to relapse.
It's why I'm here today. It's reaching out and opening up; trusting someone, and talking to someone about what I'm really feeling, without fear. I had been afraid of asking for help out of the fear that somebody would tell me that there's something wrong with me, or send me to the psych ward, instead of sitting there and listening. But having that counsellor sit there and actually listen to me, like truly listen to how I was feeling, and help me through it, and equip me with the tools I needed, that is why I'm still here today.
What would you say to somebody who feels too scared to reach out, or who doesn't realize that people care?
There's always somebody out there that cares. Sometimes it's not right in front of you. Sometimes it's a stranger walking down the street that you just happen to sit with and just start talking to. But that reaching out and getting that help, that's the first step—and it's the most important step.
If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, a trained responder is ready to listen. Call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566, anytime day or night. And to hear stories of real people who’ve reached out for help, visit todayisbetter.ca.