Community members weren’t afraid to talk about life and death this week on World Suicide Prevention Day.
Soles Remembering Souls was held Tuesday at Maffeo Sutton Park to remember lives lost to suicide and to create awareness about suicide prevention.
The event was organized by the Vancouver Island Crisis Society and some of the messages were that life is something to embrace, and that suicide is everyone’s loss.
Elizabeth Newcombe, the society’s executive director, said everyone matters.
“You are suicide prevention, we are suicide prevention,” she said. “Take care of yourself and support one another.”
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly and Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson all spoke at the event. Malcolmson thanked those who have helped in crisis situations, no matter the outcome, and said for those in crisis, it takes bravery to step forward and ask for help.
“I’m relieved that we are lifting some taboos and I am also deeply cognizant of our responsibility to make sure that there are resources available when they take that brave step of asking for help,” she said.
Emily Post, community awareness coordinator with the crisis society, said if people are willing to talk openly about their struggles, it can remove a barrier that causes people to turn to suicide instead of turning to others.
“Your pain is not weakness and does not diminish the strength that you have shown,” she said. “Talking about mental health should not invoke shame, but rather, it should be seen as an act of courage.”