Life in Balance

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The Toronto Star: Shedding light on the reality of teen suicide

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An Ajax family hopes to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing the pain of losing their loved one

“This whole problem of stigma can’t be solved by the professionals; it can only be solved by families and kids who’ve lived through it.

“It’s very brave and remarkable of this family to be open about it. This whole problem of stigma can’t be solved by the professionals; it can only be solved by families and kids who’ve lived through it. . . . Having people like (Canadian cyclist and speed skater) Clara Hughes say, ‘I’ve had depression. It’s not a catastrophe. It’s common; it’s like getting the flu and you can do something about it.’ ”

“We as boys, I think, are told we should ignore our feelings. When we’re sad, we can deal with it, but we do it under wraps because ‘we’re men’ and ‘men don’t cry,’ as bogus as that is,” he said. “I hope we all can take the message that it’s OK to have feelings, it’s OK to cry, it’s OK to be depressed because sometimes it happens and no one can control it.”

Shayne Clench’s death notice is startlingly honest: the Ajax teen “passed away suddenly by taking his own life.”

The obituary, nestled among hundreds of others in the pages of the Star, breaks the taboo on publicizing suicide: a stigma that shames families into silence and helps no one, least of all others who are themselves contemplating the ultimate act.

For the Clench family, who gathered last week to bury the 17-yearold, there was never a question of hiding his cause of death.

“There’s no sugar-coating it — this is what happened,” said his sister, Shannan. “I guess we’re hoping to spread the word. If people see the pain this causes, it could discourage others from doing it.”

“Everybody likes to tuck it under the bed, like these things don’t happen,” added his other sister, Meaghan. “But if we bring it into the open, maybe people will feel like they can talk about it.”

They speak in that frank way people do when they’ve already cried all they can and have no tears left. Having a reporter at their brother’s funeral isn’t helping the grieving process, no matter how much they try to say it does.

Read the full story: Toronto Star – Shedding light on the reality of teen suicide



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