COLUMN: Brave enough to ask for help

‘Your care and concern could save a life. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are really alright.’

Damien C. Kurek, M.P. (Battle River-Crowfoot)

On Sept. 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day was acknowledged around the world.

As suicide is one of the leading causes of death among adults in our country, it is encouraging to see mental health and wellness becoming a more frequent topic of conversation.

Initiatives like the #BellLetsTalk Campaign have helped to break the stigma around mental wellness. While these are steps in the right direction, more needs to be done.

With the implications of COVID-19 and the economic struggles we face, there is a great deal of stress on all Canadians, both young and old.

With the oil downturn, many jobs have been lost and a lot of folks are struggling to make ends meet, leading to stress at home and in families. Agriculture in our region has had a number of challenging years and with such a short window to harvest crops, along with late nights and early mornings, stresses add up.

It is vital to remember that through all the challenges, there is reason to hope. Better times always come, and there are always people who can and want to provide the support you need.

If you are reading this and currently find yourself struggling, know that you are not alone.

You carry value and worth, and you deserve dignity and life. Reaching out to someone when you are struggling requires bravery, but know that bravery’s only requirement is taking a step, even in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

Please talk to a friend or family member, or reach out to organizations that have resources to help you and/or your loved ones. A number of examples of resources include:

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1.833.456.4566

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Line: 1.855.242.3310

Kids Help Phone: 1.800.668.6868

Kids Help Text Service: Text ‘CONNECT’ to 686868

If your finances are causing you significant strain, know there is help and people who can assist you to get through the difficult times.

If you do not know who to reach out to, contact my office and we will help you get in touch with the right resources.

Further, I want to bring attention to the importance of being a good neighbour.

Your care and concern could save a life. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are really alright. If you receive the typical “I’m good” and still sense uncertainty, make a point to follow up or ask that person to join you for a cup of coffee. The number of lives saved over a cup of coffee would be an amazing statistic to know.

In conclusion, let’s talk about suicide and its impact on our country, let’s be good neighbours and support those who are going through a tough time, and let’s ensure that mental health and wellness are something we address as a society.

Let’s be brave enough to ask for help, brave enough to talk about it, and brave enough to share help and hope to those who desperately need it.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this column or need assistance with Federal Government programs, you are encouraged to write Damien at 4945-50th St., Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, text 403.575-5625, or e-mail damien.kurek@parl.gc.ca.

You can also stay up to date with Damien by following him on social media @dckurek.

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