Hugs, kind words, memories and tissue were shared during the Canadian Mental Health Association’s annual Be the Light event in Vernon’s Polson Park on Sept. 10.
Tuesday was World Suicide Prevention Day.
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.
But talking about it can help break down stigma, she said.
That’s just what the attendees did during Tuesday night’s event.
Jars were decorated with love in memory of those who died by suicide. They were lit and placed under the memorial tree in the park.
“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.