I wanted to voice myself on a sensitive issue. An issue we don’t really know how to react to. Sad to say it’s “Suicide.” From observing and listening to people in our communities, we joke, laugh and gossip about people who have attempted suicide, but when someone succeeds, there’s no more ridicule, only remorse.

I would like to point out one thing before I go on: I’m writing this article with a holistic view and in no way do I want to cause a sense of guilt within anyone, but rather acknowledge that attempting suicide is no laughing matter. It has to be taken seriously.

A very special thing is happening to our people. We are reeducating ourselves and each other to be who we once were before our people were oppressed. We have to start exerting the knowledge we once had as Aboriginal people, our values, traditions and beliefs in the sense of being caregivers, and use that knowledge of respect amongst one another. We can’t pretend that when someone attempts suicide, it never happened or that it won’t happen again. Acknowledge the person’s pain. Otherwise it will happen again.

I write from first-hand experience. I saw it in my family, friends and community when I was a constable. And also in myself. Suicide has played a major role in my life and I’m not ashamed to admit it. This is why I can talk so openly about it. I understand the feeling and the pain of not wanting to live. I sympathize with anyone who lives with that feeling of hopelessness and loneliness. I lost a very close friend through suicide, a childhood buddy. I spent the weekend with her a month before she committed suicide. It was a shock to me when I had heard the news. I felt this overwhelming guilt but there was nothing I could do. She was already gone. Then I realized there is something I could do and that’s to send a message to everyone to take suicide more seriously.

For those of you who have had a family member or friend who’s attempted suicide, help the person. Listen to them. Talk to them. Most people who attempt suicide usually have low-self esteem, so be patient. Building self-esteem is a long process, but don’t give up on the person.

I write this in hopes of making people understand that people who attempt suicide don’tdo it lightly. It’s a cry for help.