Every day, ten Canadians die by suicide, while two hundred more attempt suicide. Tragically, the North Okanagan has one of the highest youth suicide rates in our province.

“Guilt, fear and shame are powerful feelings that can keep us in the shadows when talking about mental health challenges including suicide,” said Julia Payson, Executive Director for Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Vernon & District Branch.

“When we publicly share our thoughts and feelings about suicide, it lessens the stigma and opens opportunities for others to get the help they need, whether it be reaching out to a loved one, medical professional, co-worker or the Crisis Line,” she said.

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, designed to bring awareness to the needs of people at risk of suicide, suicide attempt survivors and people bereaved by suicide.

Locally, CMHA Vernon will be hosting the 3rd annual ‘Be the Light’ evening at the Polson Park Bandshell from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. as an opportunity to join together as a community to remember those we have lost to suicide and support those who have survived.

“The more opportunities we provide for people to reach out to, the healthier our community will become and we can hope to see a decline in these tragedies that affect so many lives,” said Payson.

‘Be the Light’ aims to reduce the shame and stigma that often surrounds suicide to allow for hope, healing and remembrance.

Prior to the event, CMHA will be providing supplies to decorate memorial lanterns at 5:15 pm. Participants can feel free to bring photos to include on the lanterns in memory of their loved ones.

Afterward, community members will share words of hope, remembrance and support, followed by a short walk to the commemorative tree, which was planted in remembrance of those in our community lost to suicide.

The event is open to everyone and registration is not required.

For more details please call the Canadian Mental Health Association at 250-542-3114 ext. 226 or email at [email protected] and help reduce the shame and stigma that surrounds suicide to bring hope, healing and remembrance.

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