Adam CarterCbc News
Date Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
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Eric Barby knows how important a sense of hope is for people struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Barby, 23, tried to kill himself in 2005, when he was in tenth grade.
“I felt so hopeless. I felt like I had no other choice,” Barby said. “And when I kept trying to search for support, it wasn't there.”
That's something the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton is trying to change as they host a “Day of Hope” on Monday, which is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Barby was bullied and lost many friends in high school because he was openly gay, he says. The increasing isolation he felt, coupled with a lack of support, pushed him to try and kill himself.
“As you can tell, I failed,” he said, trying to add some levity to a serious situation.
Though he survived, it took years for him to shake his suicidal thoughts. “My suicide attempt became just another thing I failed at.”
Things eventually turned around for Barby. Now he's in his second year of the Mohawk/McMaster nursing program, and is using his story to try and tell others they aren't alone.
“Suicide really is everybody's responsibility,” said Jill Dennison, regional lead for the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. “We all need to be aware of the signs, symptoms and where our resources are in the community.”
To that end, Hamilton's Suicide Prevention Community Council is doing what they can to create awareness. Starting at 4 p.m., crews of young people will tag “messages of hope” in chalk throughout the city.
They are also walking en masse from the spiritual gardens in front of St. Josephs Hospital to city hall.
People can get involved by joining up with the walk, or by tweeting messages of hope using the hashtags #wspd or #hope.
Dennison also encouraged people to post messages of hope for suicide prevention as their Facebook statuses.
“We're really working and striving to make Hamilton a suicide-safer community,” she said.
This is the tenth anniversary of World Suicide Prevention day, and in that time, things have gotten better in Hamilton, Dennison says.
“We know people are talking more about suicide and suicide prevention, and that's a good thing.”
While Hamilton might have made progress, Barby says it still has a long way to go.
“It mainly ties into the fact that we don't have the mental health resources we need,” he said.
“I kept trying to find the support. I went to the public health nurse at the school and she didn't really know what to say.”
“Because nobody talked about it, it never became an issue they could truly address.”
Barby's story can be a difficult one to hear, but a necessary one. He says as long as people get talking about suicide more, it can only help.
“To me, when somebody kills themselves, the body becomes a symbol that this life was not possible,” he said.
“If that's the case then you have to ask — what are we missing?”
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