The Central Okanagan’s RCMP Victim Services Unit says it has has supported 34 people in response to 14 calls to police concerning suicides so far this year.
Recognizing the tragic loss caused by suicide to local communities, the victim services unit, along with the Okanagan Suicide Awareness Society, is asking the public to acknowledge this mental health issue Monday, Sept. 10 joining others around the world and lighting a candle and placing in a window at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.
The gesture will show support for suicide prevention and remember those lost to, and those impacted by suicide.
It is also encouraging the public to learn about suicide prevention as suicide is a major cause of premature and preventable death in Canada.
A 2016 B.C. Coroners report identified 71 deaths by suicide in the Okanagan, 29 in the City of Kelowna. That same year, local victim service caseworkers helped 73 people significantly impacted by 25 suicides.
While the team may not be called to every suicide police attend, it, along with the RCMP, witness the devastating impact to people of all ages and from all backgrounds.
“Most will never know why their loved one died by suicide, many blaming themselves which only makes an already painful situation worse,” said Victim Service caseworker Tacey Gosling.
“I’ve assisted small children, parents, spouses and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide and it has been absolutely gut wrenching to witness such pain and bewilderment, especially on the faces of little ones. I would love nothing more than to never attend another suicide call, ever again.”
Local resources are available to education and help deal with the issue.
“Our focus as an awareness society offering public presentations, website materials and a support group is to help reduce stigma and false assumptions about persons contemplating suicide as well as concurrently supporting those impacted while sharing a strong message of hope that the risk of suicide can be reduced,” said Glen Maddess, president of the Okanagan Suicide Awareness Society said,
For more information go to suicideawareness.ca.
On Sept 10 at 8 p.m., a large candle will be lit and placed in the front window on the second floor of the Kelowna Police Services building to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
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