Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out icba.ca/wellness for details.

In our online portion this week, we look at what happens to those left behind when someone dies by suicide.

This is something too many of us have to face. When I was 17, I worked with (and looked up to) a mid-20s bartender at a local restaurant, who took his life. He was an amazing guy, cool and kind and hilarious. I was just a naïve kid, but never in a million years would I have thought he dealt with the kind of issues that would lead him to suicide.

One Saturday night, he was there, laughing and filling our drink orders. The next Saturday night, we lit a candle to remember him, and tears flowed among the staff. There was no memorial for him, as his family closed ranks because of the stigma of suicide.

I’ll never know what led him to that decision. I wish one of us had seen what was happening beforehand, but I’m not sure there was much warning – certainly nothing that a bunch of teenagers and early twentysomethings were able to pick up on.

It’s been more than 25 years since that awful week, and still I think about it, and him, from time-to-time.

Today, there are more resources available. Many workplaces have Employee Assistance Plans, where we can call and get counselling. There are bereavement support groups that do wonderful work with people. There’s even a hotline for help – 1-833-456-4566 (or text 45645).

We’ve come a long way in dealing with the stigma of suicide and mental health. But there’s further to go.

***Remember: if someone you know is considering suicide or has already created a suicide plan and you sense it’s an emergency situation, act immediately and call 911. And if you’re contemplating this yourself, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 833-456-4566.***

ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 75 companies and 7,000+ construction professionals better understand mental health. The program is free for ICBA members — see icba.ca/wellness.