People walk a lighted path in McGuire Lake Park for the Suicide Safer Communities Lantern Walk on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The walk was to remember those who died by suicide and offer support and awareness of the issue in the community. -Image Credit: Tracy Hughes/Salmon Arm Observer

Lantern walk remembers, shares hope

More than 150 participated in second annual Salmon Arm Suicide After Communities event

Little lights were aglow around McGuire Lake Wednesday night to remember those who have died by suicide and raise awareness of the issue.

For the second year, people listened to music, messages of hope from speakers and walked, lanterns in hand, around the lakeside path.

More than 150 people gathered for the event. Some hugging and shedding tears, others listening in quiet contemplation as speakers acknowledged the grief that comes with a death by suicide. Participants were also encouraged to reach out if they, or someone they knew was struggling with thought of suicide. A team of people, designated with glow sticks, were there to provide support to anyone who was feeling the need to talk.

Due to the fire ban, candles were not permitted, but organizers managed to secure battery-powered votive lights to ensure the lanterns were lit. Many of the lanterns were made by local children at the Salmon Arm Art Gallery’s Family Saturday program.

The jar-lanterns were labeled with comforting messages – Hope, Just breathe, Dream big, Be someone’s sunshine when times are grey.

“It is really remarkable to see,” says Capreece Bowers, one of the organizers, as people walked past with their lanterns lit. “It makes you realize just how many people in our community have been touched by suicide.”

There was also a resource table set up where people could leave messages and find out about community programs. A support group for those who have experienced a death by suicide of a friend or family member is planned for Sept. 20 at 781 Marine Park Drive. For more information, contact Bowers at 250-804-6304 or Shannon Hecker at 250-832-8477.

If you or someone you know is in need, contact 1-800-Suicide (1-800-784-2433) or the Interior 24 Hour Crisis Line 1-888-353-2273.

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