• John Jantak

Hudson-St. Lazare Rotary Club tackles difficult topic of teen suicide


Jeff Moat, President of Partners for Mental Health, speaks to about 50 members of the Hudson-St. Lazare Rotary Club about teen suicide, anxiety and depression at the Wyman United Church in Hudson last Thursday evening, September 10.

Issues related to teen suicide, anxiety and depression took centre stage during a presentation made by Jeff Moat, President of Partners for Mental Health, to about 50 Rotarians gathered at the Wyman United Church in Hudson last Thursday evening, September 10, which also happened to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day.

Moat was invited by the Rotary Club of Hudson-St. Lazare to shed light on this very sensitive issue that he says affects up to eight per cent of Canadian youth who will make an attempt to take their own lives during their teenage years and even younger.

What’s even more startling is the sobering fact that teen suicide is the number one cause of accidental death among Canadian teenagers and claims the lives of just over 750 teens each year. As part of his campaign to raise public awareness about the issue, Moat strongly promoted an initiative through an Internet campaign called Right by You.

The online website http://rightbyyou.ca/en provides a wealth of information about the subject and also calls on the federal and provincial governments to take issue more seriously and to provide more services to help teens in distress as mental health issues continue to increase.

The on- information provided by Right by You includes a booklet available for download and is geared towards parents to help them determine whether their children may be in distress, how to spot warning signs, and what steps they can take to get the necessary help for anyone who may be suffering from anxiety and depression.

“We’re trying to improve the literacy levels of parents and caregivers, or any adult that touches the life of a child,” Moat told Your Local Journal. “It’s to help them understand what mental health and mental illness is, equipping them with the knowledge if they suspect there’s a problem, and what they can do to get help.”

Moat is aware of how anxiety and depression can adversely affect anyone and recounted his own personal experiences that prompted him to become an advocate for more mental health services. “My mom suffered from depression when she was battling cancer and I realized how debilitating it can be. This contributed to my desire to getting in off the side-lines and getting into game and drive for change.”

Ken Lefrancois, a founding member of the Hudson-St. Lazare Rotary Club who helped organize the event, said he was also personally touched by suicide when he found out that his oncologist took his own life. “That shook me,” said Lefrancois. “I never expected someone in that position would do that.”

As part of the Rotary Club’s mandate to promote health and well-being worldwide, Lefrancois presented cheques to two Vaudreuil-Soulanges organizations dedicated to mental wellness. Le Tournant, a suicide crisis and intervention centre received $1,000; and Le Versant, a facility helps people of all ages deal with anxiety issues, received $500.

Partners for Mental Health is a national accredited charity the aims to improve mental health in Canada by mobilizing and engaging Canadians to drive fundamental changes that result in increased awareness and attention toward own mental health issues. More information is available on the website at http://www.partnersformh.ca/.