Last week, Lacombians gathered to spread awareness as part of the third annual Walk for Wellness and Suicide Prevention.
About 100 people were present at the Lacombe Memorial Centre (LMC) Sept. 10th as part of the event. Prior to the walk, those in attendance heard from several guest speakers, many of who spoke from personal experience and shared their stories about mental health and suicide.
In doing so, they began to chip away at the fictional belief that suicide is a taboo that should not be talked about and will go away if ignored. As Sunny 94’s Darcy Stingel, master of ceremonies for the program, reminded participants throughout the event, it is important to talk about suicide because it is the only way the problem will get better.
Heather Jackson, who founded the Walk for Wellness and Suicide Prevention after her 15-year-old son took his own life, was the last to speak during the program. She referred to her battle with her son’s suicide as a “perpetual tornado,” saying no matter how much time passes, she (and anyone else who has lost someone to suicide) could still be hit full force with the grief of losing a loved one.
Jackson and others also spoke of how necessary it is for those suffering to seek help. She said reaching out is not a sign of weakness but rather a way of letting those who care know how they can help.
“We all make mistakes and there is no shame in that,” said Jackson. She also said that reaching out is a much better alternative than becoming consumed by one’s own sadness.
Raven Craig, another speaker at the event, also commented on how important it is for those suffering to reach out and also how important it is for people to know what to do when a loved one reaches out. She told of how she lost a close friend to suicide because she did not know how to help them, but later in life managed to comfort another friend who was considering taking similar action.
Craig also talked about how many struggling with mental health or other issues feel like suicide is their only option to end their suffering. She said suicide does not end suffering, but rather transfers it onto those left alive in its wake.
“Solving pain with suicide simply spreads the hurt to the people around them after they’ve gone like a never ending cycle of depression,” said Craig. “It’s very important to give people the gift of the opportunity to help you, but I think we also need to teach more people how to accept it.”
After hearing the speakers, marchers walked a route through downtown Lacombe and back to the LMC sporting white t-shirts and bearing signs with anti-suicide messages on them like ‘Change your thinking, change your life,’ and ‘You are important.’
After the march, participants met again at the LMC for a barbeque and fellowship, remembering those they had walked for.