By Sean O’Malley
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a time to reflect on the nearly 4,000 Canadians who die by suicide each and every year.
In the latest episode of the CAMH podcast, I speak with Senior Medical Advisor Dr. David Goldbloom about his decades of acquired knowledge on the subject, and with Dr. Juveria Zaheer, Clinician Scientist in CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, who has worked for several years as a front line psychiatrist at the CAMH ER and was senior author on a recent study about what clinicians can learn from suicide notes to improve their efforts at suicide prevention.
We cover a range of topics, from clinical best practices, to guidelines for how suicide should be discussed in the public sphere (especially in the wake of high-profile suicides like that of Anthony Bourdain this summer), to the impact suicide has on those left behind.
A year ago, we published a project called 13 Reasons Why Not, with reflections from CAMH staff on their personal experiences with suicidal ideation or the loss of a loved one or a patient to suicide. I told my own story of suicidal ideation then, and also alluded to the death by suicide of my brother-in-law over a decade ago. In this podcast I reflect on his passing, and the lessons learned from how I reacted to his death. Dr. Goldbloom, who also participated in that project, discusses the impact that the death by suicide of a long time patient of his had on him as a clinician and a person.
We also break down some of the stigma regarding suicidal ideation itself, and the need to be open and non-judgmental when discussing it.
“When we talk about suicide, we always need to point out that the vast majority of people who have suicidal ideation do not die by suicide,” says Dr. Zaheer. “There is hope. There are treatments that work and paths to resilience that we can hold on to.”
That ultimate message of hope, and the importance of talking about suicide prevention more than one day a year, is what this podcast is about.