After almost taking his own life three years ago, Andrew Nelson wants to get a message out.
“I had a really rough patch,” Nelson said. “I had a couple car accidents, I was working at a shelter at the time and one of the guests had [attacked] me and tried to assault [me], so I was at an all-time low — was really at an all time low.
“I was feeling pretty suicidal, so I decided that i was going to kill myself and I went to the Hunter Street bridge to do it.”
Luckily, Nelson’s friends came to the rescue and saved his life.
“It’s super important to have a support system,” Nelson said, “and know that you have people in the world you can reach out to.”
And with that in mind, Nelson hopes he can help others.
Just a week before Christmas, Nelson began plastering messages of hope and inspiration all around the city with colourful posters. “This sign here says, ‘Hey you, don’t give up’,” he said, “just as a reminder to not give up.”
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Nelson said he hopes his signs will, in turn, be a sign to others that there are people who care.
“I think that in the wintertime, particularly, there’s a lot of depression and people are feeling really badly about themselves and are struggling,” he said, “so I thought would put up some inspirational posters. Signs, if you will, that people may be looking for.
“If they are having a bad day — if they are walking to maybe that bridge to commit suicide, or to go home and take too many pills — [the hope is] that they see that sign and hold on a little longer.”
Nelson believes that it’s important to speak up about mental illness, and to not let it define you. And if you see the signs and need the support, Nelson says he will be there on social media.
“If they wanted to reach out, the Facebook group is the Nels You Are Not Alone Project,” he said.
”I’d be more than happy to connect with people.”
Nelson now works as a Harm Reduction outreach worker for PARN.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.