When I arrived at Kettle and Stony Point Health Services in Ontario Canada last year, I was angry, confused, and experiencing suicidal thoughts. I was experiencing an emotional breakdown and needed help, but I didn’t know what to do.
A friend’s death had been the trigger for me at the time, but I had been harbouring these feelings from childhood. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. It wasn’t something anyone spoke about, and my father died when I was just four. I shoved it down and aside, and turned to substances instead. I used drugs as a way to escape my home and to escape my head.
When I went to the health services that day, I had been planning on killing myself. I didn’t want to live that life anymore. Instead, I chose to live. I chose to talk, and I received the help I need. Now I try to use my experiences and use my voice to help others.
I’m now a part of a Movember-funded project at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The project is called ‘Acting Locally to Address a National Problem’, and the goal is to help men in the Kettle and Stony Point community break out of drug, mental-illness and violence-plagued lives. Many people in the community have similar problems and experiences to myself. A large part of what the program does is recognize spirituality as an important part of well-being in First Nations culture, and build our own strengths so we can support our own people.
For myself, I’ve chosen to given up drugs and alcohol. In doing so, and through talking to others in the program about Movember, I’ve found out what I want to do with myself and with my life. I’d like to be a counsellor one day, helping First Nations youth, encouraging them to talk and to seek help like I did. There’s a crisis in my community. Too many people are dying by suicide, too many people are suffering silently. I’m hopeful that with the program, and by encouraging others to talk through their experiences, we can turn this crisis around.
Jeff George, Mo Bro since 2015
Jeff George: Because I've been there, I know how tough it gets
Date: 22 November 2016