This line of questioning could well have led me to get involved in politics. But I am a hands-on type. I neither like nor understand the political world. I got involved with a community newspaper aimed at troubled youth in Canada’s poorest federal riding, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in Montreal’s East End. The name of the paper was Journal de la Rue (The Social Eyes, in its English-language version).
A community newspaper, especially in those pre-internet days, was the ideal forum for people’s concerns on the ground. It was aimed mostly at youth. It provided valuable information on where people could get help: suicide hot- lines, youth clinics, community centres… In its pages, young people were encouraged to share their hopes and fears with their peers. Those suffering through hard times had an out- let, a place to blow off steam through their own creativity.
Personally, it became a way for me to share my uncertainties over the great existential questions rattling around in my mind.
The Journal de la Rue became the umbrella organization underneath which we built and organized a host of other youth intervention programs involving art, writing, dance, music, and drop-in facilities. Our community newspaper grew into its current incarnation, Reflet de Société, with its almost 500,000 readers, its popular website frequented by teens and people of all ages around the world, and its inventory of help resources: agencies, drop-in centres, websites, information for youth in distress.
Book excerpt from Quebec Suicide Prevention Handbook (2014), Éditions TNT
Suicide Prevention Hotlines:
Québec: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553). CLSCs can also help you.
Canada: Canada Suicide Prevention Service 833-456-4566
U.S.: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).