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Second Wave has Suicide Awareness Council Mindful of Seniors

Second Wave has Suicide Awareness Council Mindful of Seniors

Ontario is fully in the second wave of the pandemic, with enhanced restrictions on social gatherings being re-introduced to Dufferin on Monday. As a result, many will once again be faced with feelings of social isolation. In October, Mental Health Research Canada said one of the key indicators of mental wellness is our ability to connect with others in a meaningful way. The study found that people living alone were adversely affected.

Seniors are not excluded from this.

The Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin has observed that older adults are often cut-off from their communities and the things they have previously enjoyed. Many do not have access to technology and transportation. Moreover, the limits to social gathering can contribute to feels of loneliness and isolation.

Heather Glenister, Coordinator for the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin, states “that these factors can contribute to feelings of suicide, self-harm and suicidal ideation. There are many resources in the community. Seniors need to know how to access them and feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes, it’s about having something to smile about.”

Dufferin News spoke with Glenister earlier this year regarding World Suicide Prevention Day, where she shared that mental health has become a big factor in people’s lives since the pandemic. This is particularly the case with seniors, as many of them live alone, experiencing a high degree of social isolation due to being a vulnerable population in terms of the harms of contracting the virus. In addition to this, anxiety has been raised due to fears surrounding the coronavirus, leading to depression. Glenister emphasized how it is extremely important for us to be aware of those we care about.

ElderTALK is a long-standing initiative by the Suicide Awareness Council that is targeted towards seniors. This program ‘creates opportunities and supportive environments for older adults to discuss the challenges and changes associated with aging’. The stated objective of ElderTALK is ‘to raise awareness about the experiences of suicide and depression among seniors, their peers, families and communities’. Incorporated in ElderTALK is a play called the ‘AfterWhys’, written by seniors for seniors, that reflects on ‘not only the losses and challenges seniors may face, but also their spirit of resilience, strength and most of all hope’. These performances are currently put on hold due to COVID-19.

Mindful for Older Adults, the newest approach taken by the Council, is an ‘uplifting and delightful mini-magazine’ that is filled with practical resources, information on suicide prevents, beautiful pictures, and ‘a recipe or two’. The council believes that older adults have important stories to tell. Together, they weave a wonderful mosaic of courage, sadness, resilience, grief, joy, isolation, connectedness and laughter. The tapestry is rich and diverse. Mental wellness is one thread among many. Mindful celebrates this.

In the first issue of Mindful, a ‘perspective’ is shared by 82-year-old Janet Fowler. In this, Fowler recounts her experience early-on with the pandemic and all of the social interactions she has missed as a result. She describes how her book club continued to meet by Zoom, but this ‘left something to be desired’. Visiting doctors, in addition to the family, was another issue. Seeing the grandchildren was not viable in the winter, as Janet was considered the ‘high risk Grandma’. All of this being said, Fowler highlights the benefits that the warmer weather brought, such as social distanced visits on the patio. The perspective ends by underlining the resiliency of seniors.

The online version for this issue of Mindful can be found here. Free print copies can be obtained by calling the Council at 519-239-8091 or e-mailing suicidecouncilwd@cmhaww.ca.

A plethora of resources is provided by the council, including contact details for support services, such as the National Suicide Hotline and Translife Peer Support. Furthermore, one can find information on training related to identifying and assisting those who may be contemplating suicide, offered through LivingWorks. Events related to and being organized by the Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin can also be found on their website.

The Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin does not provide crisis support, but if one does need these services, contact the 24/7 Crisis Support Line for Peel-Dufferin by calling 905-278-9036 or 1-888-811-2222.

Suicide Awareness Council of Wellington-Dufferin
Website
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suicidecouncilwd@cmhaww.ca
519-239-8091

References – Second Wave has Suicide Awareness Council Mindful of Seniors

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