Tag Archives: Suicide prevention

Stand Up To Stigma – We shone a SPOTLIGHT on mental health!

Stand Up To Stigma launched another successful SPOTLIGHT event!

Stand Up To Stigma logo


Click here to be re-directed to ShawnaPercy.com where you can see photos and learn more about the fantastic efforts of the Stand Up To Stigma SPOTLIGHT event.

Speaking Engagements and Book Signings

We’re heading into a busy time of year and conversations are igniting!

Click here to find out where I’ll be speaking next, and be sure to check in on the Book Signing page to find out when book signing events may be happening near you.

photo (2)


I’m passionate about sharing my story and strongly believe that talking is often the first step to healing and finding release from trauma.

If you’d like to invite me to share a compelling story of hope, transparency, and awareness, or to arrange for a book signing event, please click here to contact me.

Talking Today ~ Changes Tomorrow. Let’s keep the conversation going.

It’s Bell Let’s Talk day! Find out how you can help build a federal framework for suicide prevention.



bell lets talk 2014

Bell Let’s Talk day is finally here, and raising funds to support mental health initiatives has never been so easy.

Bell will donate $0.05 for every:

  • Text a Bell customer sends
  • Every Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
  • And every share of Bell’s Facebook posts on their Bell Let’s Talk page



The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is doing a broad consultation until the spring of 2014 to inform the development of the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention Act (as a result of bill C-300 that Kitchener’s own MP, Harold Albrecht, helped secure so that Suicide Prevention is now every Canadian’s responsibility.)  It is an extensive survey and can be filled out as an individual or from an organizational perspective (so be sure to share this with your company’s Human Resources department.)

Note: You are able to save as you go, so you can take your time completing this important survey. 

Please share widely with your networks so we can provide as much feedback to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as possible and help build a solid framework for a stronger tomorrow.

CLICK HERE to start the survey now.

Please SHARE THIS POST with the hashtag reference “#BellLetsTalk so we can spread the word AND raise funds every time you do so. $0.05 (1 share with Hashtag) + $0.05 (1 share with Hashtag) = $0.10 + $0.05 (another share with Hashtag) = $0.15 and so on…


 It’s Bell day. Let’s talk.

Blog for Suicide Prevention campaign: WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION day 2013!!!

Today is World Suicide Prevention day and the start of an exciting awareness campaign initiated by the University of Southern California. The USC is promoting a “Suicide Awareness Blog Day” by driving a campaign to Blog for Suicide Prevention!


Why does raising awareness matter? I can tell you from the first day I chose to be public with my story it has been met with encouragement, resonation, and has had a deep impact on myself and others. It’s not because my story is unique. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s because my story is so common others often see pieces of their story in my own. Raising awareness helps people understand that they are not alone, there are safe places to talk about suicide and safe people who understand the impacts of suicidal ideation and the unique loss this type of death leaves behind. Not one event has gone by over the past two years that I’ve publicly shared my story at without someone coming up to me after to share pieces of theirs, often with an expression of relief that they finally feel safe enough to let go of a portion of the heaviness they’ve been holding on to. Talking is healing. Talking brings about change. I highly support the initiative to further promote blogging for suicide prevention. I fully believe this is a life-saving campaign.

Click here to learn how you can add your voice to the USC suicide prevention campaign. Whatever you blog for, whether for suicide prevention, parenting, DIY crafts, anything, if you have a story to share today is a great day to use your public resource as a tool to further awareness. Never underestimate the impact adding your voice can make.
Blogging For Suicide Prevention Badge


Click here to read the article I wrote the day I learned my husband died by suicide: “Stigma in a large yellow envelope (or Stigma spelled S-U-I-C-I-D-E)”



About Shawna

Links to speaking engagements, with videos and audio of previous talks

Another step taken towards breaking the silence & stigma of suicide (video)

The naked truth about stigmas

Grief, suicide, and “inter-generational impacts”

The pandemic of suicide

Suicide prevention resources – a conversation

USC’s MSW Programs Blog Day.
Blogging For Suicide Prevention Badge


Click here to learn more about World Suicide Prevention day and events happening in your area.


A message from the International Association for Suicide Prevention President, Dr Lanny Berman’s:

Your voice makes a difference! Thank you for supporting suicide awareness.

SAVE THE DATE! World Suicide Prevention Day: September 10th

September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day


Events will be taking place in countries across the globe. For those close to home (Waterloo Region) here are the details of what’s happening in our neck of the woods. This event is open to anyone who wants to equip themselves with resources to help themselves or others. Knowing the statistic that 1 in 7 Canadians has seriously considered suicide (The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention,) I believe this is in important endeavour.

Guest speaker

The festivities will kick off with special guest speaker, Executive Director of the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, Tana Nash.

Come hungry for knowledge. Come hungry for food.

In addition to resources there will also be free food thanks to M&M meats. Thank you for your generous support of this important cause M&M.

Butterfly release

And that’s not all. A butterfly release is scheduled for 6pm. I attended my first release last year. It was a moving expression of life’s fragility and wonder.





WSPD Poster CAMB Final

Where I’ll be:

I plan to be at the Kitchener City Hall for the Butterfly Release ceremonies and other events from 4:30 – 7:00pm.  Please come, check out some events, pick up some resources (they could save a life!) and if you see me say “Hi.” 🙂

World Suisice Prevention day Butterfly promo poster 2013 FINAL

This little light of mine:

Whether you can join an event, or not, you can still participate by lighting a candle (or using a battery operated one) and joining others around the world as we bring a warm glow to the dark night by shining our lights in our windows at 8pm.



Seniors rank highest demographic for suicides in the nation

Who do you think are at the greatest risk for death by suicide in our nation?  Youth, right?  Wrong.  According to the Center for Suicide Prevention seniors are at the greatest risk of dying by suicide.  Really?  Shocking, right? The perception tends to be that youth are at the greatest risk. Although we need to be actively concerned about our youth, and it’s a positive step that youth suicide prevention has received a lot of attention in the media, we need to be careful that we do not overlook the risks that affect the aging population.

Did you know:

  • “People 65 years and older, particularly men, have the highest suicide rate of any other group” (Center for Suicide Prevention)
  • “The baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) have had higher suicide rates than previous generations.  They are amoungst the largest population cohorts in Canada and have just begun entering the 65 and over age range.  This could translate into a tremendous increase in suicides in the coming years.” (Canadian Coalition for Mental Health, 2008)
  • “Men 65 and older have the highest suicide rate in  Canada. Men 90 years and older have the highest rate of all.” (Statistics Canada, 2008)
  • “The focus might often be on young people, but the highest rate of…suicide in Canada is among men over the age of 80.” (CTV News)
  • Every week, 10 seniors over the age of 60 die by suicide in Canada. But their deaths rarely grab the media spotlight.” (CTV News)

The 65+ population are also much more likely to die by suicide as opposed to those who attempt suicide but survive.

Why are suicide rates higher in seniors? 

Some of the possible reasons may include:

  • Isolation
  • Less likely to talk about suicide and suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to cope with accumulated losses; for example the death of a spouse, retirement from the workforce, reduced quality of life/health complications, loss of independence, etc.
  • The awareness of seniors as a risk group is low, which means the general population may not typically be intentional about watching for warning signs

Unfortunately, death by suicide is not investigated to the same degree with seniors as it is with youth, so the reasons why seniors die by suicide are less clear. Also, because there are less attempted suicides in seniors compared to those who die, there are less people to talk to about why they may consider suicide.

What can you do?

Check in with seniors.  Spend quality time together.

Remind seniors they are valued.  Listen to their stories.  Involve them in your life.

Encourage seniors to get involved in helping others, or something they are interested in.  A person can make an impact on another individual even when they are bed ridden. They have history, knowledge, perspective, and more. Learn from our seniors.

Read the “Plus 65” suicide awareness and prevention resource tool kit by the Center for Suicide Prevention.

Read CTV’s article: Suicide among seniors a real but overlooked problem

Share these resources with others


This time of year can be difficult for many individuals.  For those of you who did not read the comments in the “What if?” post I am re-posting the comments from Fanis and myself here.

Fanis provided a number of valuable resources for the prevention of suicide.  If you know of anyone who may be struggling, or if you know of someone who may know of someone (you get the picture) please pass this conversation along.

Many thanks to Fanis for furthering this dialogue, and providing these important resources.  As she pointed out, having safe places to have these conversations is important, to reduce stigmas, build education, and spread the word about prevention.

The following is a link to a number of resources that can be located across Canada.  Suicide prevention resources CANADA.






Fanis’ comments:

Shawna, I think you are opening up a really important conversation by sharing your story. I think it’s important that we also remember that there is help/hope. I know the book Darkness Visible by William Styron is one really great resource from someone with the lived experience of mental illness and surviving suicidal thoughts/attempts. Mental illness is such an invisible disease that claims lives, but it’s important for those struggling to know that there is hope and help. Once suicidal is not always suicidal. And Suicide Prevention does save many lives. Again Shawna thank you for sharing your story and opening up the conversation, I think we have so much to learn as communities. Thank you for your bravery.

Shawna’s response:

Thank YOU Fanis! That is very good information to have. I thought about that yesterday. The cases that I, and the police have been exposed to are the fatal, but that is not to say that all cases like this end in the same way. Our perception may very well be skewed simply because of what we are more prone to be exposed to (again, referring to myself, and the police, not society as a whole.) I am very glad that you shared your point of view and think it is incredibly valid, and valuable to have shared here. Thank you for engaging and expanding my understanding on this topic.

Fanis’ comments:

Hey Shawna, I happen to have that book and can get it to you after the holidays (my sister has it right now). It’s the memoir I was talking to you about of the writer who was plagued by suicidal thoughts during a particularly dark episode during medication change of his bipolar. The book ‘Darkness Visible’ actually was introduced to me in the same spirituality group when I first learned of C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed. The phrase “darkness visible” is from the poem by John Milton “Paradise Lost” (a poem that C.S. Lewis really responded to and wrote a book about)that kind of reminds me of your metaphor from an earlier blog entry about the darkness of the womb in the nine months before birth and how you compared that to your grief journey with Neil’s death. The line from the poem says:

“No light, but rather darkness visible

Served only to discover sights of woe. . .”

The writer of the memoir Darkness Visible really describes the agony that puts you out of your mind when fighting mood/mental disorders, and that shift in perspective that brings on a sense of hopelessness, which is a big risk factor when dealing with suicide, I have been told.

I think I understand (to a point without the lived experience) why the policeman would say what he said given his experience of deaths by suicide. I think I just reacted to something that seemed like a “fatalistic hopelessness” in the phrase “it’s not if, but when”. But maybe it reflects a reality in a fallen world that I haven’t really experienced and I am limited in understanding. I also understand that you are writing here as a survivor of who has lost a family member, and talking about the “slippery slope of what-ifs” and how they are not healthy which is very valid and I am thankful you are sharing that. My perspective is also laden with the experience of mental illness in people that I love, the lived threat of loosing loved ones to the disease, my own journey in understanding my own mental health and the isolation of a fistful of pills. I think as you know from being a caregiver that it takes a lot of courage to live with mental illness and that stigma is a fact in that journey. I think part of that is because mental illness, and mood disorders have behavioral manifestations that erode relationships and I myself have pushed loved ones away and/or had to protect myself from loved ones. I also know the anguish of knowing my behavior based on my mood alterations is breaking down my connections with people close to me. I am thankful that I haven’t suffered as much as others. But I do ask myself often, what would it look like to have safe spaces in community in the midst of all these dynamics that affect more people and families that we know? Safe spaces for survivors, caregivers and for those struggling? I haven’t got those answers but it’s a conversation I hope to continue.

I am so thankful that you have opened up this conversation space through your story sharing.

Shawna’s response:

Thank you again for your insightful thoughts and for keeping the dialogue open, Fanis. Please allow me to clarify.

There are parts of this post that certainly do seem “fatalistic”. My hope was that they would be balanced with the rest of the writing in that same piece, but to make a certain point perhaps it seemed that the fatalism of suicidal tendencies took over. I apologize if it was too simplistic. This is certainly a complex topic.

Let me try to be more clear. I am not saying that everyone with mental illness, or even with suicidal thoughts, are going to commit suicide. If that were the case I too would be in the grave.

Some people have the will to live and fight to over come their suicidal tendencies with each rising battle. Others have lost the will to live and, unless they are monitored 24 hours a day, may very well fall into the category of “not if, but when.” Some individuals are premeditated in their attempts, and others, like my husband, are impulsive.

Still others may have a will to live but may stop, or forget, to take their medication. In Neil’s case he was actually on a medication change. He was normally on two types of medications, but during this time one of them had been switched. It may take four to six weeks for that medication to become effective, so during that time it was like he had stopped taking one of his meds. Statistically, the rate of suicide is higher during the first four to six weeks of being on anti-depressants, just as it is in the first four to six weeks of coming off them. There are many factors certainly to be considered in this conversation.

Another thing I want to make clear is that when it comes to mental illness it is not necessarily the individual themselves who chooses this for themselves. During an episode it is their disease that makes this choice.

I also want to clarify another point, not because you are bringing it to the forefront, but because I do not want it to be misunderstood. When it comes to medication in general, or the choice to use alternatives, I am in no way advocating for one of these options over another. I have picked my own path, and each individual must also choose theirs. This is a very personal choice and each individual should understand their reasons for what they choose. I believe in a holistic approach where nutrition, exercise, reduced stress, medication (if necessary), and meditation/focus on connecting with God and others, are used for better over-all health.

If you feel anything else is unclear, or if you would like to bring more resources to the discussion, please feel free to continue the dialogue.

Thank you,


Fanis’ comments:

Understood, and thanks for your clarity Shawna. And I should also clarify that when I used the term “fatalistic” which was probably not the best word I was not applying it to your post in general which offers good advice about not falling into “what-ifs” but it was more of a *reflexive* response to what the policeman said in your story. But please don’t apologize for being too simplistic, you were not and sorry for my slowness to understand

Also, thanks for welcoming more resources. For the benefit of other readers out there like myself for whom this is opening up more questions and conversation, here is another resource the national website of Suicide Prevention: http://www.suicideprevention.ca/

You are already doing some of their work by “ending the silence” by sharing your story! So thanks for allowing me to learn from your story.

Love and prayers!!