A community event aiming to help reduce the stigma of suicide will take place Monday, Sept. 27 at Boitanio Park in Williams Lake
Mary Borkowski-Sutton, Suicide and Sudden Death Committee chair said there will be an open mic for people to share stories, offer hope and cultivate community.
“When someone dies by suicide, it brings up many uncomfortable emotions for the loved ones left behind. I hope this event will raise awareness and reduce the stigma around suicide,” she said. “I think the most important thing we can do is also one of the hardest things to do, and that is to talk about suicide.”
Impacted personally by the death by suicide of some friends, Borkowski-Sutton said a lot of people think they are alone.
“There are so many people who can empathize with this specific kind of loss, myself included, and there is a community of support available to us.”
The Suicide and Sudden Death Committee is made up of local community organizations and agencies who meet once a month to discuss the needs of the community.
“Recently we have been working with School District 27 to have an agreement to work with students.”
In 2020 there were 3,500 deaths by suicide in Canada, 609 in B.C. and 132 in the Interior Health region, she said.
“I know we are definitely supporting those struggling with this,” she added.
Borkowski-Suttons said anyone who is affected by suicide, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, is encouraged to please reach out for support.
She listed available 24-hour resources that include Canada Suicide Prevention Service’s toll-free, 24/7 service, 1-833-456-4566, First Nations Hope for Wellness Help Line which is toll-free, 24/7, 1-855-242-3310, Crisis Text Line (24/7 Crisis Responders) text TALK to 686868, Your Local Crisis Line (toll-free, 24/7) call 1-888-353-2273.
Local resources include the Williams Lake Suicide and Sudden Death Committee at 250-267-2377, Interior Health Mental Health & Substance Use at 250-392-1483, Ministry of Children & Family Development Child & Youth Mental Health: 250-398-4963, Cariboo Friendship Centre: 250-398-6831, Denisiqi Family Services: 250-392-6500 and Axis Family Resources Ltd.: 250-392-1000.
The event will take place at the Gwen Ringwood performance stage in the park from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and will be following COVID-19 protocols.
Chairs will be provided and anyone wanting to pre-register is asked to call Borkowski-Sutton at 250-267-2377.
Other aspects of the event were still being finalized before press time.
September is National Suicide Awareness Month.