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Lives on welfare: All I can do is wait for another suicide attempt

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – In an earlier installment of Lives on Welfare, John (not his real name) told us about some of his more memorable encounters with Community Services caseworkers. Last week we sat down with John again. His mother refuses to see a doctor and at times threatens to commit suicide.

John is a kind and generous person who lives with health issues, depression and anxiety. The mental health issues his mother faces are too much for him to handle. But when John asks for help there is nobody there.

When I was growing up I had to hide knives from my mother, and pills and things like that.

In 1995 mom attempted suicide. She was in the Nova Scotia Hospital for a couple of weeks, and doctors said she needed more family involvement.  


My family did come around for a while, but in a year or two it went back to nothing, to the way it was before. I was 17 when she had her suicide attempt.

Now when I complain to my family they say that I need to think more positively, and that I need a better relationship with God…

She wrote another suicide note, two years after the first attempt. It goes on how she regrets having received cancer treatment, and how she should have just let it go. I called the Nova Scotia Hospital but they said her file was closed.

They said they can’t do anything until she tries again or asks for help. What does that even mean, when somebody who is not in her right state of mind says she doesn’t want help?

There needs to be more outreach. I am waving my arms, saying this is going the wrong way, help me out! But nothing.

I have made suicide attempts myself. Thankfully none in the last ten years, but when I was growing up, and I had all this going on at home, and I was not getting any support.

Meanwhile I was going to school and getting in trouble there, and I didn’t have good friends to support me. That’s ultimately why I dropped out. I was picked on at school because I didn’t have clean clothes, and sometimes the teachers would give me food so I could get something to eat. I was getting picked on for that too.

When somebody has a history of suicide attempts, and people tell me her case is closed, I think why not open it up again? I am at a point where I just want somebody to come in and deal with it.

I have never even spoken to my current (Community Services) caseworker, at all. And if I were to call her I wouldn’t get a response. A friend of mine called her a couple of times, because he needs new glasses. She never called him back.

I had a breakdown last August, and I felt like I was eight years old again.  I had the same feelings again. She looked me in the eyes and she was crying. She said, there is nothing I’d like better than to take myself out of this world. If I ever get my hands on Tylenol I’ll take every last one of them. It brought me back to the time I was a child, hiding Tylenol, hiding knives.

All I can do is wait for another suicide attempt. So something can be done. It puts a stress on me that I can’t handle anymore

Edited for clarity

If you are in crisis now please call the crisis line number listed below or dial 911.  

The Mental Health Mobile Crisis Team offers telephone intervention across Nova Scotia and mobile response in most communities in Halifax Regional Municipality. Toll free 24-hour Services – 1(888) 429-8167

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