Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Way to Hope

Starting the first Sunday of September our healthy gang of teens came back to church and it was a delight to see them reconnecting with one another. They are really a great group of human beings and the way they offer mutual support and friendship is a touching example to the rest of us. We are so blessed to have them in our midst.

I thought of them and the way they care for each other as I read an important four-part series on teen suicide in the Globe and Mail over the past few days. The stories of loss are wrenching, but there is also a call to hope based on vigilance and a funded practical strategy focussed on teen issues which lead to suicide.

As I read the first article on Saturday I pondered the community our young people have created, along with excellent leadership, in the life of St. Paul's. I know that they talk about God and finding the strength to face the day to day challenges. I assumed that no mention would be made of faith in the articles but that first one mentioned religion as a possible positive factor in the lives of young people, which encouraged me. So often we are portrayed as the problem rather than the solution.

Several of you have lost loved ones to suicide and bravely written about it; a spouse, a son, a brother, a father. Others have been touched by loss within your families or with friends. This challenging reality is not outside our faith community.

Have any of you read the Globe articles? Do you think we getting somewhere in addressing the old taboos of mental illness and suicide?


lionlamb said...

This from reader Janet who is having trouble posting"

Yes, I have read the articles and shared them with others. Two St Paul’s friends come to mind – one is a relative of one of the teen victims described in the article; the second is a professional working her heart out to raise funds and awareness in the Ottawa region. Education is the key to understanding, acceptance and treatment. I wish that the Globe would now tackle mental illnesses among the 24 – 36 age range.
It is with joy that I observe our tight teen group. I pray that they will sustain their faith and friendship in the years to come.

dmy said...

I agree with Janet, education is the key along with communication. Suicide and mental illness are a reality among us, whether experienced directly (family or friends) or indirectly (the stories of loss and sorrow we read). These should not be considered taboo topics and discussing these issues makes us all more aware and vigilant. I also was encouraged to see Faith mentioned in the article. Our caring youth at St. Paul's are a testament to our church and leaders, rich in their ability to communicate with each other.

johnny said...

I have just spent several days up north, involved in a workshop on suicide in aboriginal communities. Many of the attendees were from remote, fly-in first nation communities, where youth suicide is disturbingly and alarmingly high.

The workshop was challenging and difficult, but we concluded with a sharing circle. When the feather was passed to each person, I was saddened to hear what almost every one of those people have had to endure. Saddened, but not surprised. I lived on a reserve in northern Saskatchewan. To say aboriginal people are resilient would be an understatement.

Laura said...

I have been reading this series, although missed Saturday's. There was one other day that didn't mention faith, but spoke of making sure kids had the "tools' to deal with stress. My experience thought that one of those "tools" is faith. I am encouraged to hear that it was actually addressed.

I found great concern from the articles but also hope that topics of mental health were becoming more freely discussed, and hope from those families working so hard to help others amidst their own grief.