Please let’s talk because people’s lives depend on it

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day. As Canadians from coast to coast Tweet, text and talk, the money Bell will donate to mental health initiatives will add up quickly. (Five cents for every hashtag)

Bell Let’s Talk Day was launched in 2010 and since that time more than $100 million has been raised.

The idea of this day is to get Canadians talking about mental health in the same way we would cancer or any other illness. It will lessen the stigma that is still so prevalent.

I know we still have a long way to go.

Yesterday in the newsroom, I took a call from a man telling me of his plans to commit suicide. And I know of at least two people in London who took their own lives yesterday.

This man had called once before – about six months ago.

At that time he was desperate. He had just been discharged from hospital and had nowhere to go.

An accident had left him unable to work and surgery to try to repair his condition was botched, he said.

He had gone through all of his resources and was now on the street. I could sense how scared and frustrated he was.

Fast forward to yesterday and this man called again to say he had no prospects in life. His condition wasn’t going to get better. He had no way to make any money. He felt the health care system, particularly the mental health system, had failed him and so many others.

This time there was no desperation in his voice. He calmly told me how he planned to end his life. His wife was living out west and she was coming to say good-bye. He said his therapist and other family and friends knew of his plan. He said he no longer wanted to be a burden to anyone.

What he wanted from me was an opportunity to call attention to the sad state of services for those with mental health conditions. He didn’t want anyone else to go through what he is.

It was chilling. I believed he was going to do what he planned. I didn’t know what to say. All I could really say was sorry.

After the conversation, I alerted authorities. They took it seriously and I gave them the information they needed, including where to find him.

Today I am left wondering about his man. Can somebody save him? If there is an intervention, will he try at some other point in time.

As I reflect on this sad situation, I realize just how much we still need to do to take this mental health crisis seriously.

Please let’s talk.

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