by Shelbey Hernandez
The Lance – News Editor
At the age of 12, she saw a lonely girl who needed a friend. In that same year, that same lonely girl became her worse nightmare and continued to be a nightmare for the next two years of her life.
Kiera Royle’s tormenter was a close friend but she acted anything but that. For two years, this “friend” verbally and physically abused her. For two years, she was called fat, stupid and ugly. For two years, she was told she would go nowhere and be no one. For two years, she was isolated for no reason. For two years, each time she tried to escape, an angry, strong hand would yank her arm, leaving a purple bruise.
And for two years, the now 20-year-old Royle was scared to let anyone know what was happening partly because of fear of judgment and partly because of fear of violence.
“I felt very scared that the violence would escalate,” said Royle. “I was very scared that one day, I would get killed because she was incredibly threatening to me.”
One day, it all became too much. There was no specific insult, specific physical or emotional injury that provoked it. It was just a matter of the two years becoming far too much.
At 14, she attempted suicide. Before she could swallow the pills, her father walked in.
“I remember begging him to let me do it and he said, ‘No I can’t let you do this. We need to go to the hospital. We’re going to get you help, it is going to be okay,’” said Royle. “I just remember begging him and begging him to just let me do it because I was in so much pain and I just wanted to end it.”
Royle was hospitalized and placed in psychiatric care for two weeks. Her friend tried on multiple occasions to contact her, but this time, she stood her ground.
Even so, the damage was severe. It took four years of various treatments, therapies and medications to get her to the point she is at now.
After treatment, she got into the social work and women studies programs at UWindsor and is currently beginning her third year. She can talk about what happened to her now, but it used to be one of the hardest things to bring up. Royle never knew about mental health awareness until she was hospitalized. She never knew how to get away, who to go to and that is was okay to talk to somebody.
That is why she said the World Suicide Prevention Day is so vital because even though initiatives have increased the number of people who seek help, there is still a long way to go.
“I think it’s important because I don’t think anybody should ever feel scared to get help. I would never want somebody to be in the position I was where I knew I needed help, but didn’t want to get it because I was scared of what people would think,” said Royle. “I don’t want a person to be ashamed because of something that has happened to them or something that’s going on in their brain. I don’t want them to feel ashamed to have an illness.”
The City of Windsor agrees with Royle. That’s why the World Suicide Prevention day isn’t set for just one day but an entire week. At UWindsor, many events have taken place, all to open up the conversation to suicide awareness and prevention.
In school settings, there are many factors that can contribute to suicidal thoughts. Stress builds and if not properly managed, it can lead to something much worse. Even if someone doesn’t have an experience as extreme as Royle’s, everything adds up.
Taking care of one’s own mental health is very important and essential to preventing suicide and depression, and knowing the signs can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Just some red flags to look out for when someone else might be depressed include mood change, anger and recklessness.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help but also if you think someone needs help, don’t be afraid to ask them,” said Lynn Charron, a member of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Week committee. “It’s a hard question to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide or taking their own life but sometimes, that can actually save their life. So for friends and family who may suspect that, it is important for them to ask those questions and not be afraid to do so.”
Royle’s story is all too common. Even with as much that has changed over the years, there are still plenty of people who haven’t received help out of fear of judgment. So UWindsor encourages those on campus and those off campus to really take in not just the prevention day, but the prevention week. There will be plenty of opportunities to learn more by attending various guest speeches and presentations. All you have to do is find out more and be there to listen.
For more information and assistance, visit http://windsoressex.cmha.ca/services/