Cases of suicide are often shrouded in secrecy because of the stigma connected with the act. However, this was not the case with Rob Chandler, a Windsor resident whose son took his own life. Following his son’s death Chandler found composure in a network of friends and in the faith community. This eventually led to Chandler becoming an Anglican deacon to minister to other families that had been affected by suicide. Chandler recalls that one of the greatest pieces of advice he was given was from a local minister who suggested that he not keep the means of his son’s death a secret. According to Chandler, “We said he sadly ended his life in the obituary. There is this stigma attached to suicide; person after person told us we were brave to do that. It was one of the best things we did for ourselves.”
The rate of suicides in Windsor has dropped from 55 in 1996 to 19 in 2006, according to Alive! Canada, a nonprofit organization. The organization recently held a workshop for faith leaders to support suicide awareness. According to Carol Mueller, organizer of the event, “We saw this workshop as a way to… bring together the social work and faith communities to work on suicide prevention and heightening awareness of the issues surrounding it.”
The following is an excerpt of an article from The Windsor Star that discusses suicide and the response of faith groups and the mental health community in Windsor, Canada:
When Rob Chandler’s son committed suicide in 2000, neighbors, friends, family and colleagues all came bearing the same thing: food.
And when it came time for the funeral even more food descended upon the Chandler household.
“On the day our world collapsed people brought food,” Chandler recalled at a workshop on suicide awareness for faith-based leaders held in Windsor Thursday.
“Spiritually oriented people always seem to bring food when there is a death and we ended up with about three months worth the day of Jeremy’s funeral,” said Chandler, whose experience coping his son’s suicide prompted him to become an Anglican deacon in 2003, to minister to others devastated by a family member’s suicide.
His son Jeremy was 38, married, had a new baby girl, and was a successful manager at a crane company — he seemed to have it all.
But, he had always suffered from low self-esteem and most likely depression, said Chandler.
Seven months before his death Jeremy and his family had left all their family and friends in Windsor for work in Kitchener.
Jeremy hanged himself at work on a Friday. Chandler calls that day “Black Friday.”