The six weeks of the holiday season can be especially challenging for people in prison. There are more suicide attempts and many more people go to seg (solitary confinement) – getting into trouble and reacting to people and life around them. Some are on suicide watch.

Last week in class one participant Mary, a mentor on her unit, asked me how to talk to people who are struggling and finding it hard to get past their depression or sadness about being locked up on the holidays and away from their children and their families. Some who want to hurt themselves or others. Mary had a young girl come to her who was really suffering and she wanted to know what she should have said. I asked her what she did say?

She said – “I told her that she was ok, that all these feeling are like the northern lights swirling around inside her, some of the colours are darker than others, that may stick around a bit longer but it was all just energy moving through her. I said these dancing lights are temporary and underneath all her feelings she is OK, her Wellbeing intact. There’s nothing wrong with her. I told her that at the end of these few weeks she’d come out the other side and still be OK. And I’d be here with her.”

Well, I said.. you don’t need anything from me. What you said was perfect.

Ok then, she said. ‘I’m good.’ And I was thinking, yes you certainly are.