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Mom calls for openness around mental health after daughter found dead in Merritt

Jacqueline McDermott’s body was found on Oct. 8
Jacqueline McDermott’s body was found near Merritt on Oct. 8. (Facebook)

WARNING: This story discusses suicide.

“Jacqui was light.”

Such are the words of a grieving mother, who is calling to end the stigma surrounding mental health and open up conversation.

Nathalie St.-Maurice’s daughter, Jacqueline McDermott, was found dead just north of Merritt on Oct. 8 after being reported as missing one week prior.

READ MORE: Body of Ontario woman missing in B.C. found

“She shared with no one but her journal how she struggled with a darkness that was the cost of sending out so much light; her strength and joy masked the fear and sadness deep within her,” St.-Maurice said in a statement on social media on Oct. 14.

“We will never know where it came from - only that it so terrified her that she would not share it with anyone.”

She added that though her daughter can no longer speak for herself, those she left behind can still speak for her about what many face as a silent battle with depression and declining mental wellness.

“Remember her light but remember her darkness, too. Know that, in that moment, she could not see her way back to the light. Talk about her. Mourn the extraordinary loss of her future. Love people every day and do not let the light she gifted you be extinguished - use it as a spark to spread radiance into every part of this world.”

McDermott’s aunt, Christine McDermott, shared her own thoughts on social media about mental health.

“We need to end the stigma. It’s okay to be not okay. It’s okay to need professional help.

“And for those struggling in silence, please wave a flag (no matter how small) so we know to get you support. You are loved. You matter.”

McDermott had been in B.C. for six months, travelling out west from her hometown of Kitchener, Ont.

READ MORE: Ex-Canuck Corey Hirsch stacks the pads for mental health in Kelowna and beyond

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at


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Jake Courtepatte

About the Author: Jake Courtepatte

Editor of Kelowna Capital News & West K News since February 2022. I have spent the majority of my career working in the Toronto area as both a sports reporter and a general reporter.
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