New website aims to dispel stigmas around mental illness

Jude Swanson tried to kill himself by jumping in front of a SkyTrain at the Stadium station nearly two decades ago.

Emergency responders gingerly rescued him from under the train and he spent several hours undergoing life-saving surgery at St. Paul’s Hospital.

What followed was many months in care, first to address his physical wounds and then to get control of his depression.

With his suffocatingly low self-esteem, Swanson felt so badly about his failed suicide attempt that he thought to himself, “Boy, I can’t even kill myself right. I managed to screw that up.”

As he was beating himself up over his situation, his roommates in the psychiatric ward—a Vancouver police officer and a St. Paul’s doctor—were also dealing with their own humiliation.

“Sharing a hospital room with that doctor and police officer, who were so ashamed about being there, was crushing for me. I want the shame, the stigma, to end. I hope these people who became my friends have overcome that,” Swanson told delegates to the 6th International Conference on Patient and Family Centered Care on Thursday.

Pamela Fayerman reports

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