Written By Jaydon Turgeon
My name is Jaydon Turgeon. I am a youth mental health advocate and a member of Children's Mental Health Ontario's Youth Action Committee.
Among these things, I am also a suicide attempt survivor.
I am here in front of you today to talk to you about a broken system, not just a broken system that almost claimed my life, but a broken system that has and will continue to take more lives if we don't start acting now.
When I was 16 I lost a family member to Cancer. Shortly after that, not learning or realizing that I needed to grieve, I started to abuse alcohol and drugs as a way out. That took me down a really dark road for about 8 months.
I couldn't handle the pain anymore and tried to take my own life.
After spending the day in my local hospital, they finally medically cleared me about 6 hours later where they then chose to transport me to Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) to see what they could do for me. Which let me tell you right now, it was not a lot. My time in the CHEO Emergency Room was very traumatizing and in not any way helpful.
Not only was I forced to sit in the Emergency Room for 9 hours until the mental health professional showed up, but all I heard for nine straight hours were the sounds of children screaming and crying.
When the mental health professional got there, they did a 10 minute survey, and then sent me home.
This should have never happened. It should have never gotten to the point where I felt like I had to take my own life. And there are two things I want to tell you that could have helped me before I went into crisis:
- If there was effective mental health education, I would have had a better understanding of what was going on and how I could have reached out for help. I also would have benefited from knowing what community resources and supports existed before I went into crisis.
- Once I got to a point where I did need help, I should have been able to access community-based services that specialize in youth mental health care. I should not have had to go to the hospital (which is a terrible place for someone experiencing a mental health crisis to go).
But I never got the proper community services. And so my only option was going to the hospital. Which ended up doing more harm than good.
What is even worse, is that my experience isn't rare. What I have learned In my advocacy work is that there are hundreds of youth out there in this province who were traumatized by the system or didn't find out about the services available until it was too late.
This isn't just about making people happy. This is about life and death. And until the government decides that this is a worthy enough cause to put their money towards, none of this is going to change. People are going to continue to suffer in this broken system just like I did. Or, people will lose their lives to this broken system, like I almost did.
I am just not okay with that. And you shouldn’t be either.
This is part of a speech that was presented to the Standing Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs on January 17th, 2018 in Ottawa
*Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons*