Frequently Asked Questions

Feedback from the school talks has been extremely positive from both students and staff. We have also received an excellent collection of questions from students. Your feedback is very important to us so here are some of the answers to those questions. 

Questions from student presentations have been answered by mental health professionals.  Questions directed by Sasha's family were answered by Sasha's parents.


General questions about Suicide

To answer questions about suicide we have put together a separate information page specific to this topic.

Read more

General questions about BPD/Mental health

What’s the difference between bipolar and BPD?

Bipolar is a disorder where mood states last for weeks, whereas BPD is a disorder where a person has a hard time regulating their emotions, and these situations generally last only a few hours.

Who should we tell or how can we help if we think someone has BPD?

If you worry someone has BPD first speak to the person that you are worried about them. They might already be getting help. If they continue to express worrisome behavior you should seek out a trusted adult or school nurse.

How long does BPD last?

For most people about 4 years after initial diagnosis by current research.

I might have had this when I was younger I got help now I am better. Do I have anything to worry about?

You might always be emotionally sensitive. Pay attention to old habits reappearing.

What are the early signs of BPD?

Being very emotionally sensitive. Telling stories in your head that have no data to back up the story.

Are you born with mental illness/BPD?

Mostly you are born with the vulnerability to develop mental illness and BPD.

What usually triggers people to get BPD?

Abuse, trauma and so-called invalidation can all trigger BPD

Are there different levels or degrees to BPD?

Generally people need 5/9 symptoms for the diagnoses to be made, but we see people with only one or two symptoms and others with all 9.

Is medication ever the best solution to treat mental illness or does it cause more harm than good?

Sadly no medication appears to help reduce the symptoms of BPD

Are there any official tests for BPD?

No biological tests, however some semi structured interviews can be useful

How can you prevent mental illness?

At this point there is no way to do so, however we can all practice healthier mental health habits (for instance regular exercise and staying away from drugs)

Is there any way that a person can get help without talking to friends, family etc?

Can you talk to a teacher, priest, school councilor?

Do you think that someone can live happy even when affected by BPD?


Are athletes more likely to have BPD?

This is unlikely, because the level of capacity you need to regulate your emotions at high level sports. Although some high profile athletes like Brandon Marshall have admitted they have BPD, he has also acknowledged that it took a great deal of emotion regulation ability to be able to perform at the highest level and he has attributed this ability to the treatment he received.

What are leading causes of BPD?

This is still unknown, however it is considered to be 60% due to genetics and 40% due to the environment.

Is BPD the same as depression?

No. Many people with BPD experience depression however, depression is considered to be a problem with how neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) work. The sadness or misery in BPD has more to do with feeling a lack of connection, fearing abandonment and feeling misunderstood.

Would a person with BPD have to go to a therapist in order to get help and what kind of help would he/she get?

Ideally a person with BPD WOULD go to a therapist to get help. There are many forms of treatment for BPD these days. The best known is DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy).

What gender is most prone to BPD?

In most studies, research shows that the gender ratio is 3 women to 1 man, however some studies have shown that it could be closer to 50/50.

How do you overcome mental stress?

There are many ways to do so. Mindfulness meditation is one, and my personal favorite, however regular exercise and, perhaps most importantly, good quality sleep are ideal and inexpensive ways to deal with stress.

How can we notice that our kids have mental problems?

The most important feature is when there is a sudden and rapid change in behavior such as a sudden change in friends, a decrease in communication, an increase in isolation and a drop in grades or school attendance.

When an individual has BPD is it always clear to them?

No it is not always clear to them or their loved ones, however, if their style of interaction gets them into regular conflict in relationships, at school or at work, it might be an indication that there is a problem.

Is meditation a good way to regulate your emotions?

Meditation Mindfulness is an EXCELLENT way to regulate your emotions and in my opinion, the best way to do so!


Question on How to help/How to get help

Sometimes I get tired of trying to help my friend. I feel like it’s always give, give, give and I get fed up because it’s like she doesn’t want to listen. How or what do I do to get through to her? How do you get your friends to open up?

Your friend will only open up if and when she feels ready to do so. If you feel that she does not want to listen you might let her know that..

What do you do if your friend doesn’t want help?

I have not found a way to help someone who absolutely does not want help. However most people don’t know how to ask for help.

How do I help a friend that is depressed or shows signs of bulimia, anorexia, cutting or do illegal drugs?

First talk to them and then if that does not change things speak to a trusted adult about the situation.

What do you do if a friend is cutting her wrists and tells me she has been trying to kill herself?

This is a situation where you MUST tell your parents or her parents.

What do you do if someone talks behind your back and you feel like not knowing what to do?

We can never know what it is that someone is actually saying behind our backs. Don’t assume that you know.

What do you say when people say "whoever commits suicide is a coward or quitter?"

I would say that people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts are often depressed or hopeless and rather than our judgments they need our love, our help and our compassion.

How many people have Borderline Personality Disorder? How common or rare is it?

2-6% of the population.

Is it possible that someone in my school has BPD?

Very likely yes.

What if you suspect a family member has a mental health issue and she/he won’t admit to it, she/he can’t be trusted and she/he completely pushed you away?

You should openly share your concerns, however you can never force someone to deal with a situation they don’t want to address.

Why don’t people look at the good they have done and appreciate them and stop dwelling on the bad they do? Or just forget about it and move on?

This is because powerful emotions like guilt and anger are often attached to these memories and most of us never learn to let go of powerful emotions.


Questions directed to Sasha's family

In looking back now as Sasha’s parents did you see any signs that suggest she was suffering from BPD before she was 10?

We did not notice any signs to suggest Sasha was suffering from BPD before she was 10.  In looking back, signs probably started to appear when she was around 12 or so.

How is it coping with your loss/ your daughter’s death?  How can others cope with it?  Do you feel you’ve accepted her death?
What is it like losing a child?  Does it add mental stress?

It is painful beyond words to loose a child. We have had unbelievable support from friends and family and this makes a world of difference. In addition, we have and continue to receive grieving counselling which is very helpful to us. The work our sashbear making waves group is trying to do to raise awareness on BPD inspires us and gives us strength to move on, to pursue her cause. You can never get over loosing a child, but with time you can get used to it. We miss Sasha every day and always will but we must allow ourselves to be happy, to smile and enjoy life, to cherish those dear to us who are still here, none more than our wonderful daughter Kayla.

How do you move on from losing someone close due to suicide?

The most difficult aspect for us was to deal with the natural sense of blame, responsibility and second guessing one feels when something like this happens.  But in the end for us it is important to accept that we cannot control everything, that we did the best we could given what we knew.

Why did the doctor just give up on Sasha in 2007?

We believe that stigma and lack of medical system support resulted in a missed opportunity for Sasha to get help early.  We take the phrase “we are doing the best we can and we can do better” to heart and we believe it also applies to the doctor in Sasha’s case.  Part of our mission is to help change that, so that missed opportunities like that don’t happen to others.

What do you say when people say “whoever commits suicide is a coward or quitter”?

We don’t see people who die by suicide as cowards or quitters, just people who in the height of their pain and suffering were not able to see that life is worth living even though the road to get there may be very difficult

  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better...
  • Let's remove stigma from mental illness and Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • We are all in this together, you are not alone...
  • Validation before problem solving...
  • Emotion Regulation Disorder is the new name for Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • Let's teach DBT skills in schools...
  • Let's intervene, let's intervene early...
  • Show me compassion and empathy first, don't just tell me how to change
  • Let go of judgments and believe in me so that I can believe in myself
  • Accept me so that I can better accept myself
  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better next time
  • Take care of yourself then you can attend to others
  • Be mindful - Observe, describe, participate effectively
  • Observe your own emotions rise and that of others, pause then engage effectively
  • Strive to be wise, not just rational or emotional
  • Change what you can, accept what you cannot
  • Validation is not agreement
  • Validate, Validate Validate
  • Be supportive, let go of judgements
  • We can't control having strong emotions but we can change how we respond to them
  • Hope is everything and is always there even when I cannot see it
  • BPD is more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder combined 6%
  • The suicide rate of BPD victims is 400 times that of general population
  • BPD is the third leading killer of young women between the ages of 15-24
  • 1 of 5 seek help, 4 of 5 benefit from treatment
  • 4,000 young people die by suicide per year in Canada
  • I am not the disorder. I am a person
  • Stop the Stigma - by Speaking Up
  • Living with BPD is like not having an emotional skin
  • Genetic vulnerabilities and invalidating environment could lead to BPD
  • Breathe
  • Mindfulness is not what you think
  • Mindfulness is being present moment to moment
  • Mindfulness is just observing, paying attention to non-judgement
  • Patience, trust, non-striving and acceptance
  • Mindfulness does not come by takes practice
  • Let your breath be your anchor to observe thoughts as they arise
  • Observe thoughts as they come and go like waves on the ocean
  • Pay attention to what you are actually paying attention to
  • What we frequently think we become
  • Turning my auto-pilot off
  • Only that day dawns to which we are awake - Thoreau Walden
  • It is a radical act of love to just just down and be quiet for a time by YOURSELF
  • You are HERE!
  • Make each moment count!
  • I am a valuable part of all that EXISTS
  • I am Love. ALL is Love
  • The practice of mindfulness is not to follow your heart but to train your heart
  • It's OK, let it be
  • Smile at thoughts, they are empty. The only power thoughts have is the power you give them
  • The benefit will come to your life with consistent mindfulness practice everyday
  • Whatever you do to make it mindful!
  • Kindness is pure wisdom
  • Mindfulness is free or craving, want or hate
  • Be gentle to yourself as well as others
  • When you feel connected to someone that connection gives you purpose
  • Practice kindness whenever possible. It's always possible - Dalai Lama

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