Mental wellness and suicide prevention walk coming up

Lacombians are not staying silent about a serious issue.

REMEMBERING - Heather Jackson holds a photo of her son

REMEMBERING - Heather Jackson holds a photo of her son

Lacombians are not staying silent about a serious issue.

Lacombe’s second annual Walk for Wellness & Suicide Prevention is being held on Sept. 10.

One of the event’s organizers said that the walk is a chance for people to spread awareness about suicide and mental health issues within Lacombe and elsewhere.

“Our hope is to raise awareness, to remove the stigmas surrounding suicide and mental illness,” said Heather Jackson, co-coordinator for the Walk for Wellness & Suicide Prevention.

She added that the event provides an opportunity for people to speak up and show support for anyone thinking about suicide or experiencing mental issues.

Suicide is an issue that is close to Jackson’s heart.

She lost her son, Wade, to suicide two years ago when Wade was only 15. About three months after Wade’s death, Jackson and her daughter participated in a March for Suicide Awareness walk in Edmonton. It was that event that inspired Jackson to start something similar here in Lacombe.

After putting the word out that she wanted to start such an event, Jackson was put in touch with Alberta Health Services and Neighbourhood Place’s Barb Walker.

She has been working with them to put on this year’s event as well as the walk held last year.

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.

“You don’t know what they are thinking.”

It is important for people to know that there are options when it comes to getting help for mental wellness, she said.

There is no ‘one-size fits all solution’ and what works for one may not work for another, she said. Jackson added that it is also important to know that just because someone has tried something that didn’t work doesn’t mean there are no further options left available to them.

Walk for Wellness & Suicide Prevention works to promote these options, said Heather. Not only that, but it also strives to let people know that there are options to get help when faced with mental health issues and no one needs to deal with them on their own.

She said that many who are going through such difficulties think that it is easier not to burden their families and friends with such issues, when in reality that is only hurting themselves.

“(People need to know) that if you give it a day, if you give it time, you can get better,” she said.

She added that the walk is also a good way to show anyone facing mental health problems or considering suicide that there are people on their side.

To illustrate this point, participants in the walk wear bands that read ‘I am important.’

While it is only in its second year, it seems that the Walk for Wellness & Suicide Prevention seems to be accomplishing its goals and reaching people.

Approximately 350 people and Heather said that usage of Lacombe’s mental health care facilities has increased since the first event was held last year.

The Walk for Wellness & Suicide Prevention begins at the Lacombe Memorial Centre on Sept. 10.

Heather said the event will begin with speakers at 4 p.m. with the walk through downtown Lacombe beginning at 5 p.m.

After the walk, participants will return to the LMC for music and a barbeque.

Those participating in the walk are asked to wear white shirts and to bring photos of loved ones to add to the memorial board.