Crisis at Christmas?

Christmas is around the corner and for many that includes family dinners, holiday pot-lucks with friends in ugly Christmas sweaters, and increase deaths by suicide….or does it?

Many people believe that during the holiday season more people end their lives, but that is not the case and is a stereotype perpetuated by many factors including media coverage. This blog post is not lay blame anywhere including the media; we know that reporting on suicides is a very difficult topic and we commend those that do, because they are helping to lift the silence surrounding suicide. This post is more about saying that Christmas is NOT the only time someone will die by suicide.

On the 24 Hour Distress Line the number of calls received in 2011 remained pretty steady throughout the year, with no significant increase during Quarter 4 as suggested by the stereotype that people struggle more during the holiday season.

While this information might be interesting, why is it important? Because many people struggle throughout the year, and we need to let them know they are not alone, and “whatever the question, suicide is not the answer” as Bob Rae said at the recent Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention in Niagara Falls this past year.

For those that struggle with thoughts of suicide, they may experience “triggers” following many losses or changes; as we say change is a loss, even if it is a positive change.  The trigger, or the straw that broke the camel’s back can really be anything; from a small change in your everyday routine, to a loss of a relationship or job.  Many people have coping strategies that work normally but this time they don’t, and that is where a person can go into crisis. With time and effective coping mechanisms many people come out of their crisis stronger. Sometimes the problem is identifying what those effective coping strategies can be for you; this is where the 24 Hour Distress Line or friends and family can help. Sometimes talking it out helps organize your thoughts, and allows you to build new coping strategies; you can also reflect on what has worked in the past and use those to manage the crisis you are in.

Some suggestions for coping mechanisms that may work for you are:

  • Engaging in physical activity – this can be anything, including working out, playing sports, dancing or tobogganing (a very Canadian option!).
  •  Spending time outside – one of the best features of Edmonton is the river valley, take some time to enjoy the natural beauty your community has to offer.
  • Quiet Activities – more low-key activities that can include journaling, reading, watching TV or crafting.
The best way to cope is to consider what really works for you to relax, decompress and distract yourself from the issue. 

Finally reaching out to friends and family, possible a doctor, counselor or priest, can be an important step in coping.  Finding someone you trust to reach out to and talk about what’s going on can do a lot of good in reducing feelings of isolation and increasing feelings of control.

Many people experience feelings of loss, hopelessness, and frustration. Know that you are not alone; reach out and take that first step, the 24 Hour Distress Line is always available to help, 780-482-HELP (4357).

Additional crisis services can be accessed through

Survivors of Suicide Remember Loved Ones

Each year in Alberta over 500 people die by suicide; more than those who die in automobile accidents. That’s just over one suicide each and every day of the year. We know that with each suicide loss there is an average of 6 people who are experiencing intense grief, these people are survivors of suicide.  

In Alberta, there are over 3000 survivors of suicide per year who are struggling to cope with a recent suicide loss. These survivors are faced with the need to confront their raw and life-changing grief but due to fear and misunderstanding, many survivors are left alone and in silence, shunned by society, struggling to cope with their loss and the overwhelming stigma surrounding it. What survivors of suicide desperately need is unconditional support and compassion as they negotiate the unfamiliar and often brutal surroundings they encounter during their grief journey. 

In order to courageously take steps forward on this grief journey they need to feel safe as they share their thoughts and feelings with companions and fellow grievers.  They need to remember the smiles and laughter, tears and pain.  They need their loved ones to be remembered for who they were in life and not judged by their death.

An Evening to Remember, Suicide Memorial provides an opportunity to publicly mourn in an understanding, compassionate, non-judgmental environment. With “strength in numbers” survivors will celebrate the lives of their loved ones lost to suicide.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide; if you’re supporting someone who’s lost someone to suicide; if you care then please join The Support Network’s Crisis Support Centre at the first annual “An Evening to Remember, Suicide Memorial” on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at the Muttart Conservatory (9626 96a Street, Edmonton AB). Join us for community sharing, for the memorial program, for a delicious reception and for the opportunity to stroll through the magnificent Muttart Conservatory galleries. 

More information can be found on our website or on Facebook.

Additional crisis services can be accessed through

Suicide Awareness Week 2012

In Alberta 523 people died by suicide in 2010 according to the preliminary numbers released by the Chief Medical Examiner's office. That is more than one death per day.

What can we do to stop this? Speak up! Lift the Silence surrounding suicide.

Depression and suicide are very real in our community, and every single day, the Crisis Support Centre helps people in crisis. Awareness, information, and crisis de-escalation can go a long way in removing the feelings of hopelessness. The 24 Hour Distress Line receives 12,000 calls per year. Suicide is a complex, heartrending issue with enormous stigma attached to it. The Crisis Support Centre works hard to erase this stigma, to prevent suicide and to provide help to caregivers of individuals who are suffering from depression or who are suicidal.

Suicide Awareness Week is September 9-15. Help lift the silence surrounding suicide by joining us along with Canadian Mental Health Association at Edmonton City Hall on September 13 from 4-7pm for a Suicide Awareness March and Resource Fair.

Together we can lift the silence.There is help, there is hope. 

Additional crisis services can be accessed through

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Many people like to think that abuse does not happen in our community. We know that it may happen elsewhere, but we aren’t inclined to see it in our own neighborhoods. We need to recognize that this abuse is happening, and it’s being done to our grandparents, parents, friends and neighbours. Bringing awareness to seniors’ abuse helps us to recognize abuse when it is happening and gives us an understanding of how we can help senior victims.

What is it?

Seniors’ abuse, also known as elder abuse, can take the shape of many actions or in-actions, either done by one-self or others that jeopardizes the health or well-being of any senior. The two most common forms of senior abuse are financial and emotional. 43% of cases responded to by Edmonton’s Elder Abuse Intervention Team involved financial abuse. Other types of abuse include: physical, sexual, and neglect.

Who is being abused?

Seniors’ abuse is not limited to one gender, race, ethnicity, income or education level. Abusers are generally known by the senior, and could be a friend, neighbour or paid care provider. In a society with an aging population, this type of abuse is very real. Many senior victims rely or cohabitate with their abusers.

What help is available?

Seniors who are being abused have access to many resources in the city; including the Seniors’ Abuse Helpline (780-454-8888) or by dialing 2-1-1, Edmonton’s Community Information and Referral Line. If you are a senior experiencing abuse, if you know a senior who is being abused, or if you suspect that a senior is being abused, please use these services to help keep your loved one safe.

The public is invited to gather together and show our support for those who may be experiencing seniors’ abuse. Join the Crisis Support Centre, along with many other community agencies and Mayor Mandel at City Hall (1 Sir Winston Churchill Square) to proclaim Friday June 15, 2012 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Edmonton. The ceremony will take place from 12:15 to 1pm. More information on this event can be found on the Crisis Support Centre website or by dialing 2-1-1.

Additional crisis services can be accessed through
Sources: Crisis Support Centre’s Distress Line Training Manual, 2012. Government of Alberta, Facts on Elder Abuse; accessed May 30, 2012.

1 in 5 Canadians impacted by mental illness


“Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all” – Bill Clinton 

Mental illness affects all walks of life and it does not discriminate against anyone. The young and old can all be touched by some form of mental illness. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 Canadians will be personally affected by a form of mental illness while 20% of the population will be impacted by someone with a mental illness. This conveys that every family will be touched in some form or another, demonstrating that it is in everyone’s interest to bring about awareness and knowledge. 

Individuals facing a mental illness are dealing with stigmas and negative views which in turn further isolate them from the rest of society making their symptoms that much worse. Being forced to wait months to see a professional can cause additional problems. A recent report done by The Fraser Institute revealed that across the provinces, the average total wait time between the referral by a general practitioner and the time that the required elective treatment begins by psychiatric specialist increased from 16.0 weeks in 2010 to 18.8 weeks in 2011. This truly demonstrates the lack of support an individual can receive. 

In spite of this, what can be done? The Crisis Support Centre, a program of The Support Network, offers offer Walk-in Counselling services that is often a last resort, but a first step for those reaching out for help. This service provides short term, solution-focused counselling with no appointment necessary and is vitally important for those who are facing a crisis today and cannot wait 18.8 weeks. 

By educating ourselves on symptoms, effects and resources, mental illness can be dealt with by removing the negative stigmas attached to it. By increasing awareness it makes it that much easier to speak up! 

Additional crisis services can be access through

Crisis Support Centre’s website may provide listing of and/or links to third party websites as a convenient information service only. Crisis Support Centre accepts no responsibility or liability for the privacy practices, content, opinions, accuracy, and administration of such other websites, nor do we monitor or endorse these websites.

We're Accredited. What does that mean?

The Support Network is an accredited organization. Without understanding what accreditation is, the fact that we are accredited may mean little to you. Have a quick read forward to find out why accreditation is important.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation allows a program, service or organization to receive certification of competency or credibility, based on an established set of minimum and recognized standards in that field and it ensures the service provider is accountable for maintaining these minimum standards.

Why does it matter to me?

When people reach out for help, whether it is for medical reasons, legal advice, emotional support etc., most often they want to receive the best help or information there is. Accessing an accredited service is one way to ensure that you are receiving the best care.

For example, medical doctors are required by their profession to have a minimum amount of education and practical experience. They are expected to follow standardized procedures in order to be recognized, and to practice, as a medical doctor. And when you visit a doctor that displays their degrees in their office, you know that at the very least that they have met the minimum amount of education and practical experience needed to be a doctor.

This can offer you, as the consumer or client, more peace of mind when looking for a credible source for help. Choosing an accredited service provider assures you that the service meets or exceeds an externally recognized set of minimum standards of service. Most people feel more confident seeking help from accredited programs or services. 

Why aren’t all programs and services accredited?

The process of becoming accredited can be costly and time-consuming for the program or service provider.  There are certainly some credible and experienced service providers who have not yet become accredited.  It takes a significant commitment of time and resources to become accredited, and then a long-term commitment to maintain the accreditation status.

While many service providers initially pursue accreditation to increase credibility, most find the accreditation process itself to be an excellent learning and growth opportunity. The process supports them to identify competencies and strengths, as well as specific areas they can or must improve upon.  Once a program becomes accredited, it must continue to regularly review its practices, procedures and service standards to maintain that accreditation status. Many accredited programs also share ideas and best practices with each other, allowing for continued growth and improvement of service standards. 

What do you think? Does accreditation – having it or not – affect your choice in accessing community services?

To learn more about The Support Network's accreditation, visit our website here:
 Additional Support Network crisis services can be accessed through