September was the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is a subject that needs to be tackled with great care as it is a mental health-related issue. It is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults between 15 and 34 years old (Government of Canada).
Each year, the cegep trains fellow students to become gatekeepers who are there to help their struggling peers. Here follows an interview between the Lions’ Log and Aurélie Veilleux, one of the 8 gatekeepers in our school, to learn more about the cause and the role of a gatekeeper.
Here are the eight suicide gatekeepers in St.-Lo!
LL: Greetings Aurélie! To start off, our readers would like to know a bit of general background information about you.
AV: Hi! My name is Aurélie Veilleux. I am eighteen years old, and it is my second year as a student in the pre-university DEC in health science at our school.
LL: Interesting! What motivated you to become a gatekeeper in the school?
AV: In high school, I already received training to prevent bullying, and I thought that one to prevent suicide could also be really useful in my everyday life. In today’s society, helping others is not a choice but a necessity and having the tools as to how to act properly felt and still feels essential to me. Also, I have already faced a situation of this kind and would have liked to know how to properly act.
LL: What was the process to become a certified gatekeeper?
AV: I received two training sessions in which many situations were shown, and I was told how to react to them. The trainers explained to us how a person pursues the act and what is their motive to have suicidal thoughts. They also taught us how to change the perception of this person toward more positive aspects. We, certified gatekeepers, now have tools on how to speak properly to someone in a difficult situation. For example, we should not give advice to a person since they can feel suffocated. We should instead make the person realize and understand themself what to do.
LL: What about your role amongst students?
AV: To simplify the gatekeeper’s role, we discuss with the person in distress to have an overall view of the situation, and then we refer them to the appropriate resource. The training also helped us to be able to spot someone in a difficult situation by looking for specific symptoms and/or environments.
LL: Finally, what advice would you give to students going through harsh and unpleasant events which can not seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel?
AV: I would say that there is always a positive aspect in our life. The difficult thing is only to find it. If you stick to your own small victories, you will for sure reach your big ones. Also, getting help can never have a negative outcome; it always offers a different perspective, a certain support and brings ideas you may have never thought about.
LL: Thank you. Your implication really means a lot to the school.
AV: The pleasure is mine.
Help is always there for you. As Aurélie said, the vital thing to do is to reach out for it. If you know someone or are exhibiting warning signs of suicide, click on this link to contact professionals.