Your Life Counts

Your Life Counts

September 10, 2010 16:51 ET

Your Life Counts: Expert Says Talk May be Answer to Preventing #2 Killer of Canadian Youth

New Survey by Leading Youth Suicide Prevention Charity "Your Life Counts" Suggests Canadians Are Ready to Break Silence About Suicide

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 10, 2010) -

Editors Note: There is a video and a photo associated with this Press Release.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day (recognized by the World Health Organization) and a new survey conducted by Harris/Decima on behalf of Your Life Counts - Canada's leading charity dedicated to youth suicide prevention – reveals Canadians are in the dark on the issue. An astonishing 83 per cent did not know suicide was the second leading cause of death among our youth and one third (34 per cent) thought it was a small problem or not a problem at all. Conversely, 96 per cent of Canadians believe that in order to help reduce youth suicide in Canada, the topic should be freely discussed without fear or shame. A surprising finding that breaks with the outdated, destructive tradition of silence around the issue. In a message to Canadian government, which is one of only two in the G8 that fails to fund a prevention program, the survey revealed that an overwhelming 84 per cent of Canadians believe the government should invest in suicide prevention.

Youth suicide – the silent epidemic

"It's not surprising that Canadians don't recognize youth suicide as the enormous problem that it is," says Rory Butler, founder of Your Life Counts and a suicide survivor who has made it his life's work to stop Canada's silent epidemic. "Suicide is not discussed in this country and with back-to-school upon us, now's the time to start the conversation. The Your Life Counts survey proves that Canadians are ready to break the silence and that's the crucial first step to combating this deadly silent epidemic. There are many excellent resources out there, such as Kids Help Phone, but unlike others – our sole focus is on teenagers and young adults."

The frightening truth

Mr. Butler, whose organization champions the youth suicide prevention movement while helping youth-at-risk every day and providing support to victims' families, says if Canadians only knew the facts, he's confident they would take action.

Some facts about youth suicide:

• Second leading cause of death among Canadian youth – after vehicular accidents (Health Canada)   • Under reporting of suicide events occurs for many reasons but the result is unrealistic statistics (Stakeholders in Public Health, Police and other agencies)
• 15 – 24 youth die by suicide daily; 1 every 90 minutes; 434 a month in North America (US Government, Health Canada)   • Globally more people kill themselves than are killed by others each year (World Health Organization) 
• The death toll is equivalent to crashing a commercial airplane full of youth with no survivors each month or like having a 9/11-type incident every 6 months   • If youth in Ontario is referred to a registered counselor it may take as long as a year before they even get to meet  (Stakeholders in Public Health, Police and other agencies)
• At least 23,000 hospitalizations per year in Canada as a result of suicide attempts (Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention)   Your Life Counts confidential online counseling services respond within 24 hours and have saved innumerable lives
• Aboriginal Youth Suicide rate at least 6 times the national average (Statistics Canada, National Aboriginal Health Organization)    

Back to school, back to stress: Ask a youth today, join the prevention movement

Although 84 per cent of Canadians said they wouldn't be afraid to talk about it if they found out someone was contemplating suicide, the challenge is that people often aren't aware if someone is suicidal. Also, nearly 40 per cent said they wouldn't know what to do about it.

"Our goal is to start a broader movement where concerned Canadians start the conversation by asking the young people in their lives if they've ever thought about suicide or if they know anyone who has," says Mr. Butler. "The biggest problem is that youth mask their problems from their parents; peers may be aware but don't know what to do and for lots of reasons will not reach out for help through the school system.

We urge Canadians to start paying closer attention to the youth around them. Observe their behavior – every day. When you pay close attention and listen carefully you can often see there's some problem. Take these things seriously. Acting out and other behaviours are often a cry for help. Ask about it. The statistics prove that some youth do resort to suicide as a solution to their problems but the good news is many can be rescued by concerned friends and family. It's up to all of us to start the conversation because preventing suicide is everyone's responsibility," he adds.

The Your Life Counts prevention checklist:

  • Listen up – pay attention to the youth around you and take action if you see concerning behavior or changes in them
  • Ask if there is a problem – you may be surprised by how candid youth can be
  • Reassure – reassure them that you care and want to help
  • Refer – refer them to for help and links to Canada's top support services
  • Promise – make them promise you that they will not harm themselves and will let you know if they aren't coping
  • Company – make sure they have constant company and support if they are in crisis
  • Get help – if you feel someone is suicidal take them to the nearest hospital and stay with him/ her or call 911
  • Speak out – if you believe Canada should join the rest of the G8 and fund a national suicide prevention strategy

About Your Life Counts

Your Life Counts (YLC) is a registered charity leading the youth suicide prevention movement in Canada. Its founder Rory Butler is a suicide survivor on a mission. He's made it his life's purpose to help prevent suicide among Canadian youth with the help of his team – concerned individuals from all walks of life. The organization's mission statement is "Helping Youth Change The Self Destructive & Addictive Behaviours That Can Lead To Suicide." YLC's first priority is to offer immediate attention to youth who are at risk via an online lifeline, providing access to counseling via their web site at and also providing support to survivors and victims' families. YLC also offers programs for schools and communities to facilitate the practical delivery of its mission across Canada. YLC's speakers bureau includes leading experts, survivors and families of victims who share their stories and advice to build awareness and share solutions. In its commitment to youth suicide prevention, YLC works tirelessly with communities and stakeholders to raise funds, build awareness and advocate for positive transformational change in Canada. Count yourself in. Join the youth suicide prevention movement on Facebook.

About World Suicide Prevention Day, 10 September 2010 (cited from the World Health Organization Website)

"World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September promotes worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. On average, almost 3000 people commit suicide daily. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.

With the sponsoring International Association for Suicide Prevention, WHO and other partners advocate for the prevention of suicidal behaviour, provision of adequate treatment and follow-up care for people who attempted suicide, as well as responsible reporting of suicides in the media.

At the global level, awareness needs to be raised that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death. Governments need to develop policy frameworks for national suicide prevention strategies. At the local level, policy statements and research outcomes need to be translated into prevention programs and activities in communities."

About the survey

The Harris/Decima Survey, conducted from August 5 through August 9 2010, surveyed 1,008 Canadians. Results for the full sample are considered accurate +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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