Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stopping the stigma

I don't discuss deeply personal matters in a public forum often, because typically the more personal something is, the more closely we want it protected. I want to nurture pain and difficulty maternally, by holding it close to my chest and whispering, "Shh, there now. It'll be OK."

I also recognize the longevity of the Internet and often the case is that by the time a week or so has elapsed since an issue has given me trouble, it is no longer a concern to me. But permanence rekindles it, over and over, and that isn't always very conducive to healing and progress.

Talking about the difficulties of witnessing PTSD unfold is the exception to my rule. The stigma associated, and, even worse, the biases attached to it within the force, are what give post-traumatic stress disorder its power.

Since the end of April, 15 emergency responders in Canada have committed suicide (or at least, that's how many whose death has been published in the media). That's a major spike and, I hope, a momentary blip. But it's also the truth: first responders see and experience things most of us never will, and shouldn't have to.

Former RCMP Cpl Ken Barker's story really hit a nerve with me. He was one of the first responders to the gruesome Greyhound bus beheading back in 2008. This year, he ended his suffering after years of PTSD ink blotting over his life.

I process most difficulties by writing about them. Usually, in private. But this time I felt the discussion needed to continue in public, and to include a wider net of readers who can relate, the other spouses of RCMP members.

Please read my commentary online in today's Globe and Mail. And share it, because my story is so many other families' stories.


  1. Your article in the Globe and Mail was wonderfully written, Sarah!

  2. The article was excellent - thank you for sharing!!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing something so personal and important to a lot of people.

    1. Thanks for recognizing how difficult it can be to put this stuff out there, sometimes. :)


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