Letter: ‘Please don’t turn off your light’
Iqaluit family pays tribute to son, encourages others to seek help for mental health issues
Open letter to Nunatsiaq News
We write this letter with great sorrow. The feelings of deep distress, pain, sadness and regret of losing our son to suicide are felt to this day. Our son left us on September 13, 2020. It feels as if time froze and we are still living with the pain.
His name was Simon Atagoyuk. He was born in Iqaluit on January 7, 1991. He was also Nasuk, Inuaraq, Savviuqtalik, Kitturiaq, Miluqtittuq and Siipa.
Our son was most handsome and beautiful in person and in spirit. He was very talented in music. He had a boisterous personality but was very caring. He had plans and dreams. He wanted to start a band. He wanted to travel the world. He cared about his parents and siblings. He cared about his friends.
He was also battling childhood trauma and addictions. He was trying to deal with his emotional and mental health issues. He was reaching out. He was accessing mental health services. He was seeing a local counsellor. He was making some progress. Or so we thought. He was 29 years old when he decided to turn the light of his life off.
While we are learning to become survivors of suicide loss, we continue to hear more about suicides in Nunavut. It leaves us wondering if the numbers have gone up during or because of the pandemic. We hate to think of our son as a statistic. These statistics may continue to rise if we do not reach out and help each other during the very trying times of restrictions and isolations.
There are free mental services available over the phone and online. For government employees, counsellors are also available through the Employee and Family Assistance Program. My husband and I made use of this program. It does help.
In our recovery journey, we also learned about a welcomed change at the Iqaluit mental health clinic. Starting in February, they now accept same day appointment three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I called in the morning to book an appointment. I saw a counsellor right away in the afternoon.
We also learned that support is available under the federal Non-Insured-Health-Benefit Program. While this may be little known by the general public, this program covers up to 22 hours of mental health counselling a year. We’re relieved that GN can now assist individuals to access this resource. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are never prepared to lose a child, or any loved one for that matter, especially not to suicide. As painful as your life may be, please don’t turn off your light. Please reach out. And as a parent or a friend, we are by your side and we can learn more about available resources that can help us.
Parents of Simon,
Jeela and Stéphane Palluq-Cloutier