Desiree Wile is trying to inspire conversations between parents and their kids about topics like mental health, online safety and bullying.

Wile, one of the proprietors of Dark Hour Ink and a well-known presence for helping many causes in Lloydminster, is working to help get people talking about these things after suffering a tragic loss.  Last year, Wile lost her 15-year-old son Jayden to suicide, which has devastated her and her family.

“People gravitated towards Jayden, ever since he was a baby. He lit up a room when he came in, and he really, really was loved.”

Since Jayden passed away, Wile has been speaking out in an effort to help people get involved with their kids’ lives. She’s urging parents to talk to their kids about what they see online, who their kids are interacting with, and if they’re experiencing difficulties with anyone. She explains that kids could be talking in ways parents aren’t even aware of, and this can create opportunities for bullying, which Jayden also experienced.

“There’s just no getting away. Because [of] the text messages, and the FaceTiming, and the video games,  there’s no getting away from anything. At home,  say if he had a stressful day at school, well that follows you home.”

She’s also encouraging parents to meet with their children’s’ friends, schools and also friends’ parents to create a social circle that will, in turn, help the kids feel more comfortable coming to someone with a problem. Along those lines, she wants to get the word out to kids that they can speak out if they’re experiencing mental health troubles or problems with their peers.

Despite Desiree and Jayden having a close relationship, she explains he would close up on certain details about what was happening in his life and bullying he was facing.

“That stopped in January [2019] with Jayden, the talking. I missed everything, and these kids need to have a voice. If someone is being mean, or making your day bad or stressing you out in any way, these kids need to know that they can speak out.”

Right now, Wile has been speaking out online, which she says has inspired some parents with concerns of their own to approach her. She has spoken at parents nights, and in the future, Wile hopes to bring her lessons to local schools so that kids can understand that they’re not alone.

“I just want to get to these kids and just try to pump them up and be like ‘you are important. You are on this world for a reason. Your parents are your number one advocates, and if you don’t have a great relationship with your parents, then go to that school councillor, or go to that teacher, because they are out there.”

A list of community resources for someone who may be suffering from mental illness or thoughts of self-harm, or are concerned about a friend or loved one, can be found on the Lloydminster Mental Health website.