A tragic incident in Toronto last week saw 10 people killed and another 15 injured as a rental van mowed down pedestrians on the busy Yonge Street.
Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old man, has been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. The motive is not yet known, but it is safe to say that the attacker was not mentally well. After Minassian had left a wake of carnage, he stepped out of the vehicle and repeatedly reached to his pockets and quickly pulled something black out, pointing it at the police like a gun.
He feigned a “quick draw” on more than one occasion, and pleaded with the police officer to “shoot me in the head.”
It was like a dare – attempted suicide by cop. These were clearly the actions of a mentally unstable person.
The Toronto police officer dealing with the man did not shoot, and was able to arrest the man.
Mental health supports are everywhere, but sometimes when you need them the most it is difficult to help yourself.
The services offered in Canada are good, and we have a lot of focus on assisting with mental health. But when you need the help, it can be difficult to find, and sometimes there are long waits to speak with a doctor or counsellor.
Someone who has not accessed mental health services in the past can find the task daunting. A Google search can show you the long list of services offered in a place like Toronto.
Then, the person has to find the courage and motivation to start making calls, when it’s possible all they want to do is hide from people.
We can all play a part in ensuring people get the help they need. Sometimes all it takes is one person to reach out. Sometimes it takes years of help and rehabilitation.
Struggling with mental illness is never easy, but there is help available.
British Columbia Crisis Hotline 1-800-784-2433.