Be kind this Christmas
Tuesday, Dec 22, 2015 06:00 am
Christmas is a time to give.
And giving doesnít have to come in big packages.
Giving can mean holding the door open for someone or shoveling someoneís sidewalk.
With a drop in oil prices causing thousands of layoffs across the province, and the suicide rate in Alberta skyrocketing 30 per cent, I think giving is a little more important this year.
Although Christmas is my favourite time of year, it can be a difficult time for some people. And especially this year, when thousands of Albertans are laid off and tight on money.
Itís difficult for them to feed their own families let alone purchasing gifts for each other or doing their annual Christmas traditions.
There are so many wonderful organizations that provide for less fortunate people at Christmastime. Maybe some of us who have had a better year could share a little of our fortune.
Mental health officials are expecting the suicide rate in Alberta to continue to increase, which could be a direct result of the unemployment rate.
Mara Grunau, who is the executive director of the Centre for Suicide Prevention, said for every one per cent increase in unemployment there is a corresponding 0.79 per cent increase in the suicide rate.
Officials say on average there are 500 suicides in Alberta each year, but if the increase weíre seeing continues, there could be as many as 654 by the end of 2015. And officials havenít seen this kind of increase since the Ď70s.
Albertaís suicide rate is higher than most Canadian provinces and more Albertans die by suicide every year than in fatal car collisions. Three out of four people who die by suicide are men.
People who are contemplating suicide donít necessarily want to die. They are in pain and want the pain to end, but they have exhausted their resources and donít know where else to turn.
Thatís why itís important to watch for signs, reach out to others and pay it forward. Itís the little things that can make a big difference in someoneís day.
Say hello to a stranger, bake treats for your neighbour, send Christmas cards to acquaintances or pay for the personís coffee behind you in the Tim Hortons line. Every small random act of kindness can go a long way.
It seems many people who havenít experienced losing someone to suicide donít really get involved with suicide awareness or prevention events or programs.
But itís important for people to come together and show support for people who might be suffering from depression. Itís not always easy to see the signs Ė it could be your neighbour, your barista or your hair stylist. Donít wait until itís too late.
I have lost three people in my life to suicide. My brother, my uncle and a co-worker. There is nothing worse than feeling like you could have done something to help.
So please, be kind this Christmas, because you never know what people are going through.