BY ERIN FAWCETT
A walk to bring awareness to suicide prevention will take place in Lacombe on Sept. 21st.
The annual Walk for Wellness & Suicide Prevention is a chance for people to spread awareness about suicide and mental health issues within Lacombe and beyond.
The walk will take place at the Lacombe Memorial Centre beginning at 5 p.m. with snacks and information booths. At 6 p.m. there will be a program with speakers and at 7 p.m. the walk will take place downtown.
No pre-registration is required and participants are asked to wear a white t-shirt.
The annual walk was spearheaded by Heather Jackson who lost her son Wade to suicide when Wade was only 15. About three month’s after Wade’s death, Heather and her daughter participated in a March for Suicide Awareness walk in Edmonton. It was that event that inspired Heather to start something similar here in Lacombe.
Heather said that when her son died, he had recently been through a traumatic experience and his cognitive thinking wasn’t at all what it should have been. She added this is something many people in similar circumstances face. They hide their pain from loved ones and their thoughts literally do not make sense.
At the upcoming event there will also be a memory tree where participants can put a picture of a loved one who they have lost to suicide or who has struggled with mental health issues.
“People can put inspirational quotes or a scripture verse – whatever is something that is meaningful to them on the tree as well,” said Alison Whittmire, education facilitator with the Canadian Mental Health Association, adding about 250 people have attended the walk in the past.
Trish McAllister-Hall, executive director with the Canadian Mental Health Association, said she encourages the community to come and support the cause.
“It’s really about people coming out and acknowledging. We know based on statistics that one in five people are impacted by mental health. We know the ripple effect of suicide in particular is pretty significant,” she said. “It’s a great way for people to come together as a community and acknowledge that loss and talk about it because there is still so much stigma attached to suicide.
“Suicide is a community issue and we all are able to help prevent a suicide if we know what to do and if we know that it is a community issue and a social health issue.”
Whittmire added ultimately there is an emphasis on hope during the event.
“It is an issue that is heavy, but we want people to know there is hope and that with the right resources and connection and understanding that there can be a very hopeful feeling for people who might not see that today but we can tap into that.”
For more information, call 403-342-2266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.