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Especially during the pandemic, we must work to prevent suicide

Hand reaching out to a woman in distress.
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Today, September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, OPSEU pauses to remember the 4,000 Canadians who die every year by suicide. 

“It’s a terrible loss for the friends and families left behind, and it’s a terrible loss for all of us,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Tragically, these deaths could have been prevented. It’s time for us to work together to prevent suicide.” 

Mental health experts are concerned that the pandemic could be increasing the risks of suicide. Health fears, job loss, isolation and the general atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety are taking a toll on everybody, particularly those already suffering from mental illness or addiction. 

“OPSEU members have done incredible work reducing the stigma that surrounds mental illness and addiction,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “But we can’t let up, especially now during COVID-19. We can’t stop suicide if we let it stay in the shadows.” 

Thomas and Almeida are proud of the work being done by the union’s bargaining teams and health and safety committees to make sure that mental health and wellness are a priority for employers across the province. 

“Our members are doing great work on this issue,” said Thomas. “They can count on Eddy and me and the entire Executive Board to continue supporting them as they demand healthier working conditions for all. 

“And if any of us know anybody who they think might be in pain, now is the time to reach out. They may have to keep their distance, but that doesn’t mean they have to feel alone.”