Participants at last year’s ‘Be the Light’ evening joined together to bring awareness to and support for suicide prevention in the North Okanagan. (Blue Springs Photography)

Participants at last year’s ‘Be the Light’ evening joined together to bring awareness to and support for suicide prevention in the North Okanagan. (Blue Springs Photography)

Vernon’s annual World Suicide Day event breaks down stigma

Interior Health region has higher suicide rates than most of B.C.

Every day, 10 Canadians die by suicide, while 200 more attempt to kill themselves.

The Interior Health region, which includes the North Okanagan, has one of the highest youth suicide rates in B.C. Thirty-three youths between 10 and 18 died by suicide since 2013, according to the BC Coroners Service.

“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 and 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.”

Tuesday, Sept. 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.

READ MORE: CMHA Vernon offers suicide support group

Locally, CMHA Vernon will be hosting the third annual Be the Light evening at the Polson Park bandshell from 6 to 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,” Payson said.

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 p.m. 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 the community lost to suicide.

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

READ MORE: CMHA Vernon mixing it for Mental Health Week

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

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