September is Suicide Prevention Month, this month is dedicated to creating an open dialogue about a topic that is sometimes hard to talk about, but the truth is we can all benefit from creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable talking about mental illness and suicide prevention.
This summer we saw some huge names take their own lives following their battles with mental illness, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain and Avicii, three people who seemed to have everything money could buy, living the life they had always dreamed of, gave into the shackles of their own mental illness, proving it is strong enough to impact anyone.
Previously looked past, mental illness has been put on the back burner in many lifestyles, workplaces and schools because of the stigma surrounding it for decades. But as awareness about the different types of mental illness and their ability to affect even the ‘happiest’ of people, has triggered a movement that is creating a more accepting environment for the sometimes-difficult conversations that come with the topic.
This month, dedicated to the prevention of suicide, acts as a platform to start a conversation about mental illness and its hold on so many lives around us and maybe even our own. Every year, 1 in 5 people will suffer from some sort of mental illness nationwide, and approximately 8% of people will experience major depression at some point in their life. Looking at our industry, specifically, we can see these numbers greatly increase due to circumstance.
Historically men have been seasoned suppress their feelings because men are taught from a young age that “real men don’t cry.” Now as we have learned, this suppression of emotions does not make them go away, or lessen the pain, but rather intensifies the effects. This feeling of isolation is where depression thrives, and this is where the 3x higher suicide rate over men than women presents itself. Being an industry that is made up of 90%+ men, truck drivers find themselves at the fate of statistics, this coupled with the fact that the men aged 40-58 have higher rates of depression and the average age of a driver is 48 years old, makes for a strong need for the trucking industry to push for a more open dialogue about mental illness, to try and end the stigma. Upwards of 15-20% of truck drivers suffer from a form of depression- so why the hell aren’t we talking about it?
The link between suicide and depression is strong, approximately 60% of people who have committed suicide suffered from suicidal depression, this stat is far too high, if people feel that there are other options then hopefully this percentage will decrease.
What can you do?
If you are feeling affected by depression:
One of the main ways to begin controlling a mental illness like depression is to talk about it, by talking about what is happening to you, you have a release, you learn that there any many people out there who feel the same as you and you begin to find out ways that work best for you to help combat your mental illness.
If you know someone you suspect is being affected by depression:
Your friend may be too proud to ask for help, or may not realize that there is help for them out there, it is important to check up on your friends and ensure they are doing ok. Be a good friend and reach out, point someone in need in the direction of help.
A few warning signs of possible depression include:
Doesn’t seem to care about anything anymore. Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities. Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.
Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life. Is uncharacteristically sad, irritable, short-tempered, critical, or moody; talks about feeling “helpless” or “hopeless.”
Frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain. Or complains of feeling tired and drained all the time.
Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps. Has become indecisive, forgetful, disorganized, and “out of it.”
Eats more or less than usual, and has recently gained or lost weight.
Drinks more or abuses drugs, including prescription sleeping pills and painkillers.
Start a conversation with them, don’t let them suffer alone. Be gentle, but persistent. A few ways to start the conversation include:
“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
“I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately.”
Ask questions, ensure then that you are there for them and want to help, be persistent with these questions so they know you are committed to their wellbeing. A few questions to ask are:
“When did you begin feeling like this?”
“Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?”
“How can I best support you right now?”
“Have you thought about getting help?”
For more information about how to have the sometimes-difficult conversation with someone you love, visit the following website.
Please remember that we are not experts, and we encourage you to talk to a mental health professional who can offer real help and guidance to either yourself or your loved one.
JBT has a confidential information counselling and referral service that can be called 24/7. This number is not an immediate helpline. For the number please contact the Safety department.
There are a variety of different helplines such as
If you are looking for information and tools to help you manage any stress and anxiety, you can visit www.mindyourmind.ca
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger please call 911.
Please, don’t suffer in silence, there are ways to feel better. Start the conversation today and #EndTheStigma.