Event remembers victims of suicide

Friends and families affected by suicide

If you lost someone to suicide, you are not alone.

Organizers of Soles Remembering Souls, the annual suicide awareness gathering, want to show that fears over judgement and shame are unfounded.

“It’s sort of like your life changes,” said Heather Owen, Vancouver Island Crisis Line spokeswoman. “You feel so alone in the world.”

Suicide is different from any other type of death, Owen said, and the grieving process is different, too. Guilt or shame may accompany feelings of grief because of the stigma attached to suicide in society.

“One act doesn’t define who that person was,” Owen said. “It’s still a difficult subject.”

To change that, the crisis society began offering bereavement groups specifically for families left behind after a suicide and created the annual event at the Port Theatre to give people an outlet to share grief rather than bottle it up.

“It never really goes away,” Owen said.

Soles Remembering Souls begins Sunday (Sept. 11) at 2:30 p.m. in the Port Theatre lobby with a memory wall, where people can create messages for loved ones they lost. Resource tables from community agencies on suicide support and prevention will also provide information.

People are asked to bring a pair of shoes to donate, marked with their loved one’s name.

The program includes poetry and music, performed by local rapper Sirreal and Victoria-based singer Erica Day.

“This year we have a lot of youth helping us,” Owen said, adding the event will be sad at first as people remember those they lost, but will end with a feeling of hope.

The event at the 800-seat theatre is free and open to the public.

“Everybody is affected by [suicide],” Owens said. “People are just not saying anything.”

The crisis society also offers bereavement support groups, which can be found by calling the society. She said society volunteers will meet with people prior to attending a support group.

“It takes a lot of bravery to get out of the house and take that first step,” Owens said. “There are people who can help.”

For more information, please visit www.solesrememberingsouls.com or call 1-877-753-2495.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com