Yay(insert sarcasm here).
Spring symbolizes time of new growth, new life, and change. My son was born in May. I started my degree in May several years ago. We moved into our house on May long weekend, the same one that foreclosed last spring. And then, well, my husband died in spring. New life. Growth. Change. Dead husband… You know, all the good stuff.
D Day is quickly approaching and I feel more uncomfortable with grief now than I did a few months ago, which I understand is normal as we near the one year anniversary of his death. Spring is here to remind me of all that my children and I have lost, what his friends and family have lost in addition to all we have overcome this last year and the small successes we have all made.
But as much as I want to talk about all that has grown and changed, there is something more about spring that I feel should be addressed.
Spring also marks a transition out of darkness. Restrictive winter hours have slowly come to an end and our days get longer. People become more energized as the sun sets later each day and people come out of hiding to soak in their much needed vitamin D. We’re more social and engaged, energetic and connected. Flowers blossom, trees and grass turn to green. It’s a beautiful time of year.
Why then do Suicide rates increase during this time of year?
In Canada, between 3,600 and 4,000 people die by suicide each year with the highest number of suicides occurring in May(Stats Canada). According to Statistics Canada data from 2000 to 2012 there were an average of 363 deaths in May. Numbers which denounce the myth that Suicide rates increase during winter or the holidays.
Scientist, psychologists and psychiatrists alike question the correlation between spring and increased suicide rates.
One theory is those who suffered through depression in the winter, now have the burst of energy they didn’t have in the darkness to set out plans to achieve their goal of suicide. Another is the sun shine, green grass, happier people and happier days, make those struggling feel more isolated and lonely in comparison.
One hypotheses being tested is the idea that hay fever and allergies cause the brain to swell which causes behavioural changes and contributes to depression(Dr. Teodor Postolache, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine).
Regardless of the causes, what’s more important is that we are aware of the increase of Suicide rates in Canada(and other countries) during the spring and summer months. As a society, we need to open up and talk about mental health and reach out to those who may be afflicted.
Please, if this time of year poses a risk for you, and you find yourself having thoughts of taking your life, reach out for help. Call a friend or Crisis Line. Ask for help. Talk to a counsellor, go to your local hospital and know you are not alone. This too shall pass. You’ll get better. You may be low again, but always remember you won’t stay there forever. Recovery is possible.