Stigma. We often hear that we need to break or stomp the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness, but what is stigma? How do we ‘break’ it if we don’t know what it is. And what do we mean by ‘break’?

The following is a series of tweets that filled my Twitter feed on November 27-28, 2015; it’s my view on what stigma is. In case you are wondering what ‘break’ means…well, I see it as changing our habits, the way we talk about something or the way we look at something.

Please feel free to add your “Stigma is….” in the comments below. Also, I invite you to follow me on Twitter; @SuicideTalk

What is stigma?
Stigma is not having a single company in Canada with the word ‘suicide’ in their community giving policy.

Stigma is reading “died unexpectedly” instead of “after a courageous battle with depression he died by suicide.”

Stigma is buying flowers for a co-worker and checking in on them when they broke their leg but not when they have depression.

Stigma is First Responders not being trained to help families who just lost a loved one to suicide.

Stigma is journalists saying “committed suicide” when it should be “died by suicide.”

Stigma is not knowing that Inuit and First Nations youth have the highest suicide rates on the planet….and passionately demanding that we do something about it.

Stigma is making CPR, First Aid and WHIMIS mandatory in the workplace but not SafeTALK, QPR or Mental Health First Aid.

Stigma is not knowing that men 40-59 die by suicide 32.4/100K but knowing that prostate cancer kills 19/100k men.

Stigma is tucking ‘suicide’ into 4th year abnormal psychology for nursing students.

Stigma is any teacher, principal or school board trustee who has never been trained in suicide.

Stigma is NHL players dying by suicide but not making SafeTALK mandatory for recruit players.

Stigma is Hollywood using suicide and mental illness to sell movies.

Stigma is families talking about sex and drugs with their kids but not suicide and mental health.

Stigma is media having polices to not report about suicide but not having training for journalism students.

Stigma is the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention annual budget = $60Thousand and the Canadian Cancer Society = $197Million.

Stigma is having a national strategy for suicide prevention and still no funding.

Stigma is a hospital having a cancer fund, cardiac fund and paediatrics fund but no suicide fund…even though the hospital serves a region with communities who have the highest suicide rates on the planet.

Stigma is not believing you can raise real $$$ for #suicide. The Stomp the Stigma Golf Tournament proves otherwise.

Stigma is labeling criminals as crazy & using the same label for people with depression or bipolar. How many murderers have cancer or diabetes?

Stigma is not acknowledging the impact of colonialism, broken treaties, intergenerational trauma, residential schools and racism on suicide.

Stigma is believing that suicide will not happen in your family.

Stigma is allowing power and control to silence a conversation on suicide.

Stigma is not acknowledging that your loved one died by suicide.

What is stigma? Men, we need to talk!!!

Wanna break stigma? Train all Members of Parliament in SafeTALK. Give me 3 hrs of your time Justin Trudeau and I bet you and Sophie will agree.

How do you break stigma surrounding #suicide? Talk about it!! Because not talking about it isn’t working.

What is stigma? Stigma is reading these tweets today feeling uncomfortable.

Please share this blog and help break the stigma that surrounds suicide and mental illness.

Not talking about it isn’t working,
Scott Chisholm

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