Hello, my name is Kyle. I am 18 years old and I've just finished High School. High School was never been easy, let me say that. From bullying to failing classes, I wasn’t the smartest.
During my last year of High School, my cousin Joe and I were put in the same class. It was so funny because he could not believe how our birthdays are 2 days apart. He kept telling me about his business of collecting scrap metal and selling it for money. He would hardly show up because he would be “scrapping” as he calls it.
Things were going great, then one night, close to the end of the first semester, I got a call saying another cousin had taken his own life. I didn’t know my other cousin that well, but I still missed him and was sad, but it was nothing compared to what would happen later. About 1 month after, my other cousin killed himself.
My cousin Joe walked up and was telling me about his dreams and how he was contemplating suicide. I did not know what to say. I told him not to, then went and told the counsellors and teachers.
Then another month went by and I thought he was getting better. Then, one Friday, he got into an accident and everyone was not nice to him. I remember asking how he was and he just said: “I’m going”. I never knew that would be the last conversation I ever would have with him.
I went back to school on Monday and during my first class in the afternoon I saw someone saying there was support in this room, so I asked my friend next to me what happened, but he kept saying he didn't know. I remember just looking at the empty chair where my cousin would normally sit. When the class ended and I still didn't know what happened.
I went to my next class and that is when I got a text from my cousin Brandee asking where I was. I remember replying “In class, what happened??? I see people talking about help on Facebook”. She told me that my cousin Joe had killed himself. I picked up my binder and ran out of class, not knowing where I was going. I ran to the Counsellors Office where I spent the rest of the day. I didn't return to school for 2 weeks.
When I did return to school there were lots of talks about graduation and what we are going to do to remember my cousin. I couldn’t speak or do much without breaking down. There were times when I was in class and had many people talk about it as a joke. They would say it, but make sure that I was hearing them.
I would tell the teacher, because I knew that if I confronted them, I would have either fought them or I would have broken down in tears mid-sentence. After telling the teachers, they said it was tough because they cannot speak to the students because they are just 'coping with the loss'.
After a while it hasn't stopped. It kept going on. I talked to the Principle of the school and asked him to talk to the students. He said “our hands are tied, anyway, there is no use to talking to the kids because it would only make things worse.”
I was very disappointed with my school, so I made a complaint about them. This only resulted in my Principal taking me out of class and having a strict talk with me and saying that I am in the wrong. I made sure to call the Ministry of Education and give them a detailed report of what was all said because at that point, I was very angry about what had just happened.
I found that after these events, whenever my phone would ring, I would almost break down. I thought every text and every phone call was going to be news that I had lost another family member or even friend. I honestly had thoughts that I wish no-one would ever have to have. I found that I had become disconnected from my friends and family. I didn’t want to leave the house, I just felt broken.
2 weeks later I was sitting at home and that is when I got a call saying that my brother had attempted to kill himself. I went to the hospita,l but found out he had to be airlifted to another hospital. While sitting in the hospital we were told that there was no help for him, his life will be him attempting to kill himself.
I wanted to ask the doctor "why save him, if there was nothing they could do to help him?". The next day, we got the call saying that my brother was being released from the hospital, but since he had been airlifted to a different hospital, we had to drive an hour and a half to get there.
When we got there, he told us how he wanted to jump off the bridge. We asked the doctor “if he is still suicidal then why release him?”. The doctor argued with me but said they had to.
We took him to another hospital and tried to get him treatment. After 6 hours and having to fight with Doctors who wanted to let him leave again, they told him he could sign himself in.
After seeing that and being at my worst, I decided to try and get people help in my province. Seeing that we need to do something for mental health has given me something to look forward to. Of course, it will be a long battle to get to where we need to be but something needs to be done.
I started by making a Facebook page called “Mental Health Matters”. This page was created for a safe place where people could share their stories and support one another. To show people that they are not alone in what they are dealing with.
After a month people started asking for there to be a group where people could talk in person to be created. So we have done that, we have a church that has offered us the space for the group. We have had new people show up every time we hold a meeting. That was something that is helping people in the community.
I was also writing and speaking to the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Education and the Premier. Of course, speaking to politicians is tough because they only have their one view on things, but I don’t get angry, I just explain the point of view and that of many in Saskatchewan.
Just a few days ago, we have created a petition for more to be done. In Saskatchewan wait times for a Psychiatrist range from 6-9 months and up. To see a child psychiatrist, it could be 12-24 months or more.
Just so you guys understand, we only have 2 Child Psychiatrists for over 1.13 million people. The only way to see a psychiatrist, be properly diagnosed and treated you basically have to go to prison. This really bothers me and many others around Saskatchewan. I have been writing the Premier, Scott Moe, every month, just so he knows we haven’t disappeared.
I now find a purpose in my life. I am fighting for the life of my cousins and others that have been lost. I am fighting for those who are struggling with mental illness and don’t get the proper help. I also have great supportive family and friends which helps me get out of bed in the morning. It helps me because I am determined and when I share my information with them. They don’t brush me off, they support my determination.
I have been through tough days where all I can do is talk about my cousin and how much I miss him. They support me very well. I often find counting the small things you have done in the day to be good. I got out of bed and ate breakfast; good. Took a shower; good. Went out and done some things that I needed to do; great. Often the little things help you gain courage for the bigger things.
I find myself now living with bad anxiety and depression, but I find that the support groups that I have started for the people in my town have helped me. I no longer feel alone, I feel supported in every step I take. I find my knowledge with mental illnesses growing, which I am glad because education is the only way we can break the stigma.
As well as fighting for change, we need to be aware of many aspects, not just one. We are hoping to continue work in small communities who may not have these supports.
I hope my story shows that no matter how small you think you are, you can make a difference. No matter what your life struggles are, God gave them to you because you are strong. Asking for help doesn't make you weak, it makes you stronger! One last thing, your mental health matters!
The loss of someone close to us from suicide is bad enough, but two must be incredibly hard, especially when they're family. All credit to Kyle for getting through it and for channelling his determination into helping the others in his community. Have you been affected by the suicide of someone close to you? How did you cope? Let us know in the comments below.
If you'd like to keep up with Kyle, he's on Twitter at @40719Kyle and the Facebook page he mentioned in his post is linked right here. He has also started a petition to improve mental health services in his home state over at change.org. Please help and support him by signing it (even if you dont live there).