September is Suicide Prevention Month, a topic that tends to bring feelings of discomfort and shame along with it. Last Tuesday, C&C Resources for Life hosted its annual Suicide Prevention Day event at St. Andrews on the Square.
Guests were greeted at the door and were given yellow and orange ribbons, the official colours of suicide prevention. They had the chance to write words of encouragement on sticky notes that were posted on the walls of the building.
The evening began with some words by Mary Widmer and Jolene Lindsey, both from C&C Resources for Life, talking about how the event has grown.
“[The first event] was about getting Kamloops comfortable talking about the topic, and it has evolved over the years into more intimate events like this,” Lindsey described, “I’ve had lots of people come forward from the community say ‘this matters to me,’ and I believe that every person that needs to be here is here.”
The evening continued with local members of the community sharing how suicide has impacted their lives and those around them.
Keynote speaker, Mel Rothenburger, shared his journey with suicide, discussing how he has lost loved ones to suicide.
“Losing someone to suicide places a massive weight on both your shoulders. You feel it when you’re at home, at work, in both private and public moments,” Rothenburger explained.
He continued to speak on why it is important to bring up the topic of suicide, and that ignoring it does nothing to resolve the issue.
“If we don’t talk about stigma, we perpetuate it. How do we fix something if we don’t drag it out of the dark and into the light, where we can see what we’re doing?” Rothenburger said.
Research shows that a death by suicide impacts 6-10 immediate people from the victim’s life, but can affect up to 135 people. It is more common than people believe it to be, and we don’t often realize that the feelings that are brought on by suicide loss, such as guilt, blame and confusion, can impact those around us.
The evening concluded with members of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Band led guests of St. Andrews into the courtyard with ceremonial drumming. People were given candles to honour the lives taken by suicide, and stood in the courtyard side by side, supporting one another for what they were feeling.
It was a night for people to remember they do not face this world alone, and that there is always light found in the darkness. For more information on suicide prevention, visit suicideprevention.ca, and for immediate crisis support in BC, contact 1-800-784-4566.