This website and this foundation are dedicated to Andrew, someone who we all loved and continue to love. He is irreplaceable, but we started this foundation to keep him close to us in some small part, and in the hope that his story and life could help others. Please read more about his life and his struggles here.
The tragedy of losing Andrew has shattered our hearts into tiny pieces. We are working towards picking up those pieces, but as with any death, our hearts will never be the same, they will always bear the cracks and scars of Andrew’s absence. Our family has become a broken puzzle with a missing component vital for completeness; however, we have come to learn that helping others through their pain has helped us navigate through our own. We have realized this through the launching of the Andrew Jacob Memorial Foundation (read our mission statement here). We continue to recognize the urgency to destroy the barricades caused by stigma and we hope that just by existing as a foundation and by engaging in conversation, we have started to chip away at the walls. In doing so, we honour Andrew’s life and continue to love him for all that he was. We have been a foundation for about 10 months now, since November 2013, publicly launching on Andrew’s birthday, January 13, 2014. We are hopeful that we will continue to grow and be successful in attaining our goals. Thank-you for the outpouring of support we have already received through financial donations; thoughtful messages and prayers; participating in our Facebook events, the mental health boosters, seeking joy, and wearing purple for Andrew; and for the many people who made our first fundraiser a success. If you have not yet gotten involved, or wish to further, please prayerfully consider supporting us in any way that you’re able. Even if that means just visiting our website to learn more about our ambitions or to learn more about who Andrew was because he was so much more than his mental illness, his sexual orientation or the means by which he died–he was a real person struggling with real-life challenges. He was our beloved son, brother and friend.
There are many more sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters among us who are suffering in silence due to the fear of being isolated, shamed, or rejected. If you know someone that you fear may be contemplating harming themselves or ending their life, do not be afraid to talk to them about it. Become familiar with the warning signs—many of which are listed on our website. Take all talk of suicide very seriously. Never minimize one’s feelings, listen without judging, and address your concerns in a loving manner. Find out whether or not the individual has a specific plan to end their life. If so, let the individual know about available resources and help them make a contact. Stay with an individual who appears to be at high risk and, if necessary, consider involving the mental health system or police. Sometimes, all it takes to save a life is one caring person to reach out at the right time. Do not be silenced by your own fear.
If you are the one silently suffering, and you feel as though you’ve been robbed of any hope for a happy and healthy future, allow someone to hold onto your hope for you. No matter how dark your world has become, you can find your light again. You are not alone in this battle, nor are you deserving of your pain. It can get better even if that seems impossible. Please do not be afraid to reach out to someone, involve your family, or seek professional help. Ending your life is a permanent solution to a temporary problem: it will not end all of the pain; it will only place the pain on the broken shoulders of the survivors. God knows your pain—He hurts when you hurt. He will cover you with his feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.
‘Suicide’ is a word not spoken often enough within our society. When it is spoken, it is usually accompanied by unfamiliarity, discomfort, fear and shame—but to many, this word represents reality. As we bring this reality to the forefront, we can become more familiar, more comfortable, and less fearful of the unknown. Suicide is flourishing in our silence and we can no longer allow our fear to keep us voiceless. With nearly 4000 deaths by suicide in Canada each year—762 of those being young people—we do not have any time to waste. Statistics Canada reports that suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in Canada and the leading cause for those aged 15-24. Every 40 seconds worldwide, a precious loved one is lost to suicide. Imagine an alarm sounding every 40 seconds representing another loss of a life filled with struggle, despair, and shattered hope. 2 young Canadians die by suicide every single day and approximately 173,000 attempts are made by young Canadians each year. Every 9 days in Hamilton alone another life is lost to suicide. Since Andrew’s death, two more beloved young males from within local faith-based communities also died by suicide last year and those are just the ones we aware of. Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts, and over 90% of suicide victims have a diagnosable mental illness.
Due to the destructive stigma associated with suicide, families left in its aftermath are often treated differently by society than if the death were by another means. Many people are afraid to mention the cause of death and therefore, may not even acknowledge the death at all. There should be no shame associated with suicide. Choosing not to shame allows us to offer the same respect, honour, and empathy to the lost and to the loved ones left behind. Suicide is not a crime and its victims are not criminals. Therefore, the term ‘commit suicide’ should no longer exist—it only adds to the hurtful stigma. Suicide is a terrible tragedy, but it is not the primary cause of death in 95% of cases. A majority of the time, an illness or disorder—like depression—is the underlying cause. That is why we choose the term ‘death by suicide’ or ‘died from depression’ etc. We are not sugar-coating anything. We are continuing to bring attention to the word suicide yet eliminating the shame that surrounds it. What truly matters is the loss that took place.
What also matters is that final judgement takes place between each one of us and the Lord. Those who die by suicide do not want to end their lives; they just want to end their pain. The Lord recognizes our pain and our struggles; He understands when we can no longer go on. He wants to release us from the weight of our burdens. Nothing can separate us from the love of God—not even suicide can revoke His act of redemption.
This Wednesday, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day, and the theme for 2014 is Suicide Prevention: One World Connected. The International Association of Suicide Prevention encourages us all to light a candle near a window at 8pm on Wednesday to show support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one, and for the survivors of suicide.
We hope that this blog post will help bring awareness to the issue, and maybe hope to individuals struggling with thoughts of suicide. We are not willing to be silent when our voices could save lives. Are you?