A man I never knew

Feb 05, 2016 | Dian Chaaban


Monday morning I left my house thinking how beautiful of a day it was for Feb 1st. Birds were actually chirping. It’s days like this I enjoy most for my walk to work.


As I was nearing the office, just a short block away, I was walking along Yonge Street with a coffee in one hand and my phone in another. I was looking down at an email from a client when I heard the loudest thud. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw - a man had just jumped off the roof of 67 Yonge to his death and landed not 10 feet in-front of me.


My immediate reaction was to call 911 with my trembling fingers. I screamed into the phone what had happened and couldn’t take my eyes off of him the entire time. My heart broke for him and for those who knew him.


I struggled with the idea of writing to you about this or not but the notion of mental health is far too important to avoid. This man has been on my mind all week. I can’t help but wonder why he was so sad. I wonder if he had anyone to talk to. I wonder what he was thinking that morning and if something or someone could have made a difference.


It makes you think about the simple gestures in life;
Be nice to those around you.
Smile at strangers.
Talk and listen to people who need to be heard.


@Bell_LetsTalk Day was just last week on Thursday, Jan 27th – their campaign is bold and making the right splash towards ending the stigma around mental health. They say that talking is the first step towards meaningful change and building greater awareness, acceptance and action. Learn more about the 5 ways to help here.


On the theme of awareness, here are some facts I didn’t know:
• 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life
• 2 in 3 people suffer in silence fearing judgment and rejection
• Only 49% of Canadians said they would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness
• At this very moment, some 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression.
• On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness
• Approximately 11 people will end their lives by suicide today – and every day – in Canada
• Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities


More staggering stats here.


Quoting a friend of mine who lost her husband in 2012 to suicide, “we all deal with mental health issues on some level … while these issues will never go away, my goal is to reduce the number of people who die of suicide”. Following her husband’s death, Mary and her two daughters created an annual walk (James’ Journey) to help remove the stigma associated with mental illness, and to underscore the importance of early intervention in mental health and wellness. The walk also raises funds for Delisle Youth Service, a counselling organization in Toronto.


World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
Learn more about mental health


I've made a donation in memory of this man I never knew, who I will now remember forever.