There has been some talk surfacing the past little while questioning whether suicide prevention walks and various live-and-love-life events actually do any good.
The folks who look at them skeptically see no need to raise awareness about suicide in Nunavut, because we’re all too aware of it already, and better to spend your time and effort doing tangible things to help others.
On the surface, the view has merit, and it’s always a great thing to see people doing something to help others in their community, but the notion that the walks, gatherings and special events do no real good is just plain wrong.
Awareness opens doors of communication, and bringing the issue out into the light places the beast at its most vulnerable.
Although its origins are as an African proverb, it has often been quoted in many cultures, that it takes a community to raise a child.
The proverb is alluding to partnerships within the community with neighbours, police officers, clergy members, teachers, sports coaches, cadet and Girl Guide leaders, and so on.
On a clean slate, the partnerships focus on keeping youths moving in a positive, productive direction; hopefully away from the dark temptations that cross all our paths, especially in today’s world.
The same focus has to exist here for there to ever be any hope of slaying the monster that suicide is. And, no matter how big or how small, every awareness walk or celebrate life event strengthens, in some small way, the community’s resolve to fight back.
When yet another person takes their life in our region, all but the most hardhearted among us collectively sag, fear the monster, and curse the futility of the battle we find ourselves in.
But we’ve really only been truthfully fighting this battle out in the open for the past decade, and it was destined to be a hell of a fight because of how ingrained the monster had become in our communities.
Nobody likes to hear it, but suicide had become almost an accepted way of life by the time people screamed enough and began to take the fight out into the light.
It’s much easier for the combined force of a community to be effective with a clean slate, with almost everyone pulling in the same direction.
But when a monster has dug in deep, it takes away from a collective’s singular focus and forces it to expend energy on harm all ready done.
In a number of our communities, the battle is a promise of many tears being shed before ever being won, as some will slip through our fingers as our attention wades in numerous directions. That is often how the cycle survives.
But we are making progress, and I believe we will one day win this battle, at least for the majority who spend their lives on the edge.
Every single cheer we can muster for enjoying life, every inch of light we drag the monster into by raising awareness and talking openly, and every single person we show that we care, we inch one little step closer.
I’ll walk for that any day.