5765-vector-silhouettes-of-men-and-women-a-variety-of-professional-material-1It’s often in the face of a tragic event, such as the train and bus collision in Ottawa last week, that we pause and reflect on our lives and the interconnectedness of our existence.

Ottawa is small and I estimate that most of its residence are within three degrees of separation of one another.

It was important to me, as a mental health and social justice advocate, to take a moment to write about this and to encourage everyone to continue to send positive thoughts to the friends and family members of those who were affected by last week’s tragedy… and any other tragedy in which lives simply end sooner than anyone expects while leaving their loved ones in grief.

On 9/11, it was also World suicide Prevention Day. I attended a lecture at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I learned that most countries in the world continue to classify suicide as a criminal act and, therefore, incarcerate people who attempt suicide and ban any public talks or events aimed at creating awareness about any topics related to suicide. In Canada, suicide was decriminalized in 1972. We can now work toward better preventing it and support those who are courageous enough to name it.

Whether it be by accidental tragedy, intentional suicide, or the taking of one life by another, certain events seem to always have us take a moment and wonder “what if that had been me?”. Our degrees of separation can be a source of support and strength. Or, should I say, our degrees of proximity and close-relationship to one another are.

The Executive Director at my work place said it best: Hug your family members a little tighter tonight and take a moment to appreciate what you have.