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ASSIST is pleased to present
who will be providing a
15 minute guided meditation/mindfulness
session every Tuesday 
commencing at 12:00 pm.
to join on Tuesday, June 23.
This is a perfect time to take
15 minutes away to concentrate on you.  
You deserve it!


Phase 2 relaunch allows us
to have a social distance walk outside.
Join Eileen on the Eau Claire YMCA steps
on Thursday,  June 24, 2020 for a
lunch time social distance walk.

Let’s all get moving together
so the Quarantine +15 can be a -10 and
we can all fit back into our work clothes.

E-mail to
let Eileen know you will be joining.


and your colleagues from
across the province for
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM

Once we get your e-mail, we will send you a Zoom invitation to join the class

Assist’s Red Mug Coffee Circles are a place where everyone is welcome for fellowship, career advice and mentoring—law students, internationally trained lawyers, articling students, lawyers and judges.
12:00-1:00 pm on Monday, June 22
E-mail for a Zoom invitation.


Can I interest you in a car air freshener that has the power to save lives?

I am not a fan of scented air fresheners or things that dangle from rear view mirror, but I am ready to make an exception—this is an accessory that you want to check out!

It is part of the Centre for Suicide Prevention’s Buddy Up campaign to prevent men’s suicide. This campaign is underway now so we are ready for World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th.

Of course, any suicide is one suicide too many, and the Centre’s resources and support are available for all. But research has shown that there is a large gender divide: women attempt suicide four times as often as men, but men die by suicide three times as often as women. We are talking about men and suicide because it is Canadian Men’s Health Week, and suicide is a leading cause of death for men. Middle-aged men (40-60) die by suicide more than any other group.

The Buddy Up campaign was created in Alberta by Alberta men. It is inspired by the incredible programs that Australian mental health organizations put together to support men at greatest risk.

In law, we talk about having one of the highest suicide rates among the professions. When I was in law school in the 1980s, the dentists had the highest suicide rate among the professions in Canada, but lawyers surpassed them in the 1990s. Now, the dubious title belongs to medical doctors.

Buddy Up’s focus is to encourage men to
  • Pay attention to how their friends are doing
  • Start a conversation about what they are noticing
  • Keep the conversation going
  • Stick to your role (help connect the friend to the resources he needs).
This may look obvious, but there are components of male culture that inhibit men from talking about their feelings. Some men have been socialized to deny their emotions entirely on the false belief that showing any sign of weakness diminishes their masculine status. Unfortunately, men who are experiencing suicidal ideation and do not want to appear weak or unsuccessful choose the most lethal means of suicide, leaving no chance to be saved.

Buddy Up takes the very complicated issue of suicide prevention in men and breaks it into four steps:

Step 1 is simple: pay attention to changes in your friends’ behaviour. Watch for changes such as increased drinking, talking about how much life sucks, being tired or distant or being more irritable or angry.

Step 2 gets trickier: you have to start a conversation. This can be hard for many of us—how do you tell someone who seems distressed or is acting aloof that you are worried that they might harm themselves?

Buddy Up provides guidance: tell them what you have noticed in a non-judgmental way and ask if everything is okay. But before you do this, you have to find a comfortable, and safe, place to have this conversation—we will circle back to this part.

Step 3 involves asking questions to keep the conversation going and listening. You can ask open-ended questions, like “you said that life sucks—what’s that like for you?” And then acknowledge his feelings—"that sounds really hard.”

If you are concerned that he might have suicidal thoughts, simply ask the question: “Are you thinking about suicide?” It is alright and appropriate to ask this question. It does not cause the person to be more likely to act on suicidal feelings—research has debunked this myth.

The first time that I had to ask someone if they had thoughts of suicide, I was filled with trepidation. I think I feared some kind of angry backlash  But I have asked the question a few times and the responses were always soft-spoken and thoughtful. Please do not be afraid to ask that question.

How you respond next is important if the friend says that he has been having suicidal thoughts. You need to reassure him that you are there for him. You can call Crisis Services Canada together at 1-833-456-4566. If you think he intends to act on it imminently, you should call 911 and stay with him until help arrives.

Step 4 is to know your role. You are not there to judge, you are not there to tell him how to fix his life and you are not there in lieu of a trained counsellor. You are a friend, and you can help connect him to the right resources.

As members of the legal profession, we have an extra support system. Assist provides crisis counselling 24/7 with a registered psychologist to Alberta lawyers, articling students, law students and dependent family members. If you have a conversation with a friend and are struggling with what to do, please call our crisis line at 1-877-498-6898 and follow the prompts to be connected with the psychologist on duty. You can also help your friend call the crisis counselling line and stay close by while he talks with the counsellor.

So… back to the comfortable place to have the conversation. Research shows that many men are uncomfortable talking about emotionally-charged issues in situations where they would be expected to make eye contact. One of the best places for men to have difficult conversations is in the car where eyes stay on the road. This is why Buddy Up has a car air freshener--it can serve as a beacon that you are an ally and that your car is a safe place for a conversation about emotions and distress.

The Centre for Suicide Prevention is looking for champions who will take its resources (posters, infographics, coasters and air fresheners) to their workplaces, social hangouts and other places they visit. You can also promote Buddy Up on your social media.

Getting involved is easy: email Akash Asif at or call him at (403) 245-3900 (ext. 242).

Assist will be writing to law firm managing partners asking them to join the campaign, but we do not have a complete database of managing partner’s email addresses. If you want to make sure that your firm’s managing partner, or your General Counsel or other senior leader, receives my email, please send me their contact information at

As a young adult, three of my high school classmates lost family members to suicide within an 18-month period—two fathers and a brother. There were only 60 kids in my class, so this was an extraordinarily high spike. This was not the initiation into adulthood that we wanted but it is what we got.

I hoped that my children would be spared this initiation, but two of my sons lost friends to suicide at age 20. I remember each of them coming to me to tell me that their friend had died by suicide. I guess my experience as a young adult comforting my friends equipped me to support my young adult sons.

My experience as the mother of three young men is that young men don’t always know how to identify when a friend is experiencing distress or how to provide support. I will be displaying the Buddy Up materials in my home and urging everyone I know to become involved. This is my tribute to the three men who died in the early 1980s and the two young men in the last few years and the lawyers I’ve known who have taken their own lives.

My dream is that no one else—no families, no friends, no desperate men—go through this ever again. Let’s take these simple steps. Work through the Buddy Up program and display your support. Become a suicide prevention ally.

P.S. The Centre for Suicide Prevention is based in Calgary, but suicide prevention has no borders and boundaries. The training and wisdom in the Buddy Up program is applicable to all people, even though it was designed to reach men due to socialization issues. I did not focus on this program to suggest that any one group is more deserving of help. This is an excellent tool for getting suicide prevention awareness into our everyday conversations so that we can help anyone in need.

Copyright 2020 Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society, All rights reserved.
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Assist: Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society · c/o JSS Barristers · 800, 304 8 Avenue SW · Calgary, Alberta T2P1C2 · Canada

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