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Alberta

More Important Now Than Ever: Remembrance and a few thoughts on this World Suicide Prevention Day

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More Important Now Than Ever: Remembrance and a few thoughts on this World Suicide Prevention Day

Tracey Lubkey

On August 31, 2019 my sister Kelly and I lost our bright, kind, and beautiful mother Tracey to suicide. In the weeks preceding her death, a major depression Mum had dealt with and overcome several times before in her life came back with a suddenness and intensity that staggered us. It was terrifying to see this episode’s impact and how debilitating it was; the helplessness you feel when a loved one is being tormented by their own mind is it’s own kind of torture. Still, even through her long and grinding bouts of depression in years past, suicide somehow never felt like a possibility. The very notion was abstract, dark, and seemed impossible- so it was the most shocking and devastating thing we could have imagined that it happened. It’s now just over a year later and there are many days we still can’t believe she’s gone.

Our Mom was our best friend, our biggest cheerleader and just exuded light and kindness. She always wanted to help, whether it was my sister and I, her friends and family or complete strangers- if there was a need for volunteers, she’d be one of the first to sign up. She had so much love for us, for her dogs, for travelling, for golfing, for gardening, for relaxing with drinks on the patio and talking for hours. She was so compassionate and could truly see the good in everyone. When we were growing up, she worked as a registered nurse and often brought home little gifts from patients and their families that she had cared for. She left such an impression on the people she met and this was especially obvious at her memorial, where we were just blown away by the amount of people who attended that had worked with her years, even decades ago. The stories people were generous enough to share with us about our mom were so beautiful- they were such a gift and helped to propel us through that surreal day.

Last year at this time, as we moved through the chaos and fog immediately following Mum’s death, I began to see bright yellow billboards all over town stating that ‘11 Edmontonians attempt or die by suicide per day’. As it turns out, each year, over 50 countries recognize September 10th as World Suicide Prevention Day. So soon after losing my mother this way, the subject of suicide was the only thing on my mind apart from the endless ‘Why?’s. This campaign’s timing was bananas.

I quickly learned the ads were promoting 11 of Us, a resource portal developed as part of Living Hope: A Community Plan to Prevent Suicide in Edmonton. The Living Hope initiative was developed by a committee of individuals and organizations dedicated to preventing suicides in Edmonton. The plan’s objectives include raising awareness and making education on mental health and suicide prevention available to Edmontonians, in most cases free of charge.

Over the past year, I’ve taken advantage of this initiative and attended excellent courses provided by Living Hope stakeholders including Mental Health First Aid (Basic Course), Safe Talk, Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR), Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and Trauma Informed Care. Through these courses I have been lucky enough to meet and share my story with so many kind, compassionate and interesting people, whether they were the ones delivering the course or learning alongside me.

Of course COVID-19 has changed everything. Most of these courses are now offered online, including one I have yet to take called LivingWorks Start which teaches trainees to recognize when someone is thinking about suicide and to connect them with help and support. While many of us are dealing with screen-fatigue, please don’t let the idea of one more online session deter you. Most courses don’t require more than an hour, but the information you’ll learn really could help keep someone with us.

This past year has been the hardest of my life, yet I’ve been encouraged and inspired by the work and efforts of so many as I try to gain peace and a better understanding of my family’s experience. It goes without saying that suicide is a difficult topic- I’ve come to learn that nothing sucks the air out a room quite like the mention of it. It’s much easier to look away, but for World Suicide Prevention Day this year, if your own mental health allows for it, take a moment to read about the experiences of suicide attempt survivors, caregivers, suicide loss survivors, and those at risk of suicide.

We live in a new world now and we’re going to need each other more than ever. Like another one of those big yellow 11 of Us billboards I saw recently said, ‘There’s rarely been a more important time to check in with one another.’

WHERE TO GET HELP

Call 911 if someone is in immediate danger of becoming injured or dying.

In Edmonton: Call The Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Edmonton Distress Line 24/7 at (780)-482-4357 (HELP)

In Red Deer & across Alberta: Call the Mental Health Help Line at 1-(877)-303-2642

In Calgary: Call the Distress Centre Calgary’s Crisis Line 24/7 at (403)-266-4357 (HELP)

Alberta

Transportation Safety Board investigating helicopter crash in central Alberta

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CAMROSE, Alta. — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it is investigating a helicopter crash in central Alberta on the weekend.

The government agency says a Bell 206B helicopter crashed near Camrose on Sunday.

It says a pilot and three passengers were on board. 

RCMP say officers from the Killam-Forestburg detachment, as well as paramedics and firefights, were called to the crash.

Mounties say three of the four people on board were taken by ground ambulance to area hospitals.

A fourth occupant was airlifted to an Edmonton hospital.

Neither the RCMP nor the TSB would describe the severity of the injuries, and did not identify the people who were on the helicopter. 

The Transportation Safety Board says it is gathering information and “assessing this occurrence.”

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Running back James Wilder Jr. signs one-year extension with Edmonton Elks

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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks signed running back James Wilder Jr. to a one-year contract extension on Monday.

Wilder, who was scheduled to hit the free-agent market next month, racked up 996 total yards and three touchdowns in 2021.

The Florida State product finished third in CFL rushing yards (770) last season and was named the Elks’ most outstanding player.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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