Bachelor of Social Work group in front of their booth

From left to right: Rob Martin (Crisis Respite Manager, Waterloo Regional Homes for Mental Health Inc.), Madeline Mackenzie, Julie Stevenson and Natasha Ekelman. 

Some things are hard to talk about, but a team of UWaterloo students are standing up to the stigma against suicide and saying "Let's talk about it".

Natasha Ekelman, Lee-Ann Kelpin, Madeline Mackenzie, Julie Stevenson and Vicki Whiting realized there was a discomfort in talking about suicide, even though each of their lives had been touched by it. This sparked the idea behind their social change event about suicide awareness and prevention, encouraging discussion about the stigma surrounding suicide.

The stigma contributes to the fact that suicide is rarely discussed. The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) students created the Twitter account @TalkAboutIT2014 and had information booths on campus to challenge others to engage in a dialogue about suicide and encourage help-seeking behaviours in the UWaterloo community. Many students approached the booths on November 6 not only for information, but also to share their own stories about how suicide has affected their lives. The BSW students discussed suicide prevention training in the community and were met with an overwhelmingly positive response when discussing their goal of seeing suicide prevention training happen for students on campus.

The BSW program at Renison University College educates their students on many important social issues, including suicide. Social Work helps to connect people to resources to empower and support them to live full and healthy lives. The team of BSW students kept this in mind when coordinating their social change initiative.

members in front of booth

They received a lot of encouragement from their professor to make a lasting impact, to consider the ethical implications of the project, and ensure the booth had professional support on hand in case students, staff or faculty needed immediate support. 

From left to right: Vicki Whiting and Lee-Ann Kelpin

The stigma and lack of open dialogue means that many individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide, struggle alone. Opening up the conversation can give someone the opportunity and courage to talk to someone about these thoughts. - Madeline Mackenzie

Students needing help or someone to talk to about suicide can reach out to the resources below.

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