The head of a Toronto adult mental health crisis centre says many of its clients are young adults.
The Gerstein Centre, which operates a short-term residential crisis program, offers beds and support for individuals experiencing mental health issues. Paul Quinn, executive director of the centre, said that among the largest group of clients – some contemplating suicide – are people aged 35 to 55.
“We get about 15,000 to 16,000 phone calls a year from people who are in various forms of crisis,” Quinn said. “A lot of them would be expressing how they are feeling as not wanting to go on, (that) life is not worth living.”
Recently, Centennial College’s East York campus held a workshop on suicide intervention and on recognizing the signs of potential self-harming behaviours. Eric Dunn, a counsellor with the Career and Counselling Centre at Centennial College, led the safeTALK seminar on Feb. 10.
“There is a huge stigma attached to suicide,” Dunn said. “The training says: ‘Hey, we need to talk about it. We need to recognize the signs.’”
The stigma attached to suicide, he said, tends to prevent people from talking about suicide.
Joan Lee-Ferdinand, a Centennial College counsellor who participated in the safeTALK seminar in East York, said it’s important to be able to reach out to people.
“Letting people tell you their story (and) listening to that story and then asking the question (is crucial),” she said.
Dunn went on to explain that to avoid talking about suicide does not make the problem go away.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Ontario among young people aged 15 to 24,” Dunn said.
Lee-Ferdinand recognized the problem among Centennial’s population in that age bracket as well.
“We see students who have suicidal thoughts fairly frequently,” she said. “Suicide is really a subject that needs to be addressed.”