Sept. 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) and it was observed at noon in Midway and later the same day in Grand Forks. The events were the work of the West Kootenay Boundary Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Post-vention Committee.
The Community Consultative Group sponsored the Midway barbeque. Elders from the Boundary All Nations Aboriginal Council brought drums and everyone was invited to join in a drumming circle in James G. McMynn Park in Midway to remember the lives of those who died by suicide, send messages of hope and support to those touched by suicide and to renew the commitment of the Boundary communities to preventing suicide.
The theme chosen by the International Association for Suicide Prevention for 2014 was “One World Connected”; and the importance of connectedness was illustrated by flying kites.
“The kite is the national symbol for WSPD,” explained Boundary Family Services Child and Family Councillor Carol Mitchell. “The connection we have through the string to the kite in the sky represents our connection to the things we strive to stay connected to. Building connections with oneself, with others and with our communities is critical to one’s sense of hopefulness and well-being.
“The kite reminds us of the importance to stay connected to ourselves. To keep our feet on the ground and to sometimes put our heads in the clouds and dream; to be aware of ourselves and feel our own importance and power, to care for and nurture ourselves. To have fun in play, knowing that the present is a gift to be cherished.”
RCMP Cpl. Judson Mayes told those assembled that approximately 11 Canadians end their lives by suicide each day. “The effects of suicide can be devastating to all families and communities and have a far-reaching and lasting effect on everyone involved,” he said. “Our presence here today is a strong commitment to our community members that there is a true understanding and a commitment to people who are affected by suicide. Caring and understanding people are ready to help, ready to provide awareness and other resources to everyone who comes forward and speaks out.
“Suicide knows no barriers in age, ethnic background or socio-economic standing,” Mayes continued. “We need to break down the stigma of suicide. We see mental health as something to be feared but with education and understanding we can break down the barriers. Suicide prevention is a shared responsibility and we all have the potential to make a difference and save a life.”
Aboriginal Family Support Worker Laranna Androsoff said, “You are not alone.”
“Let’s face it. Nobody is perfect and life is certainly not perfect and every once in a while life will throw you a curveball and yes, it is okay to ask for support in order to cope.”
In addition to the resources in the Boundary that exist for those who might ever feel alone, Androsoff offered a few tips:
• Make time to talk and make it a priority.
• Have conversations about balancing the demands of life, work, school and other responsibilities with self-care. “Self-care is huge,” she said.
• Learn and practice as a family ways of calming, relaxing and soothing yourself.
• Make time for play and be active together.
• Make sure everyone knows about community resources and how to access them.
• Do something every day to let people know you care.
• Do something everyday to let yourself know that you matter.
“Self care is essential to your own well being,” Androsoff said. “You are not alone—together we are stronger.”
Resources are available online at www.suicideprevention.ca and confidentially through the West Kootenay Boundary Crisis Line which is staffed 24/7 at 1-888-353-CARE (2273).