Lloydminster residents found a way to gather this year and champion mental health awareness.
September 10th marks World Suicide Prevention Day. One that day, people come together to recognize the loved ones they have lost to suicide, foster mental health discussion and remind people who are facing challenges that they are not going through it alone.
Normally, people would gather and be supportive in larger groups through events like the Walk of Remembrance, but because of COVID-19 and the lower limit on gatherings, it had to adapt. Volunteers still handed out packages with a carnation to honour lost loved ones, mental health resources and a candle which people could put in the window that night to symbolize “a light in the darkness.”
Co-Chair of the Walk of Remembrance Planning Committee Neil Harris explained that despite COVID-19 restrictions, they still wanted to help people talk about mental health and know that someone suffering isn’t alone.
“This year we just wanted to have something so that people knew that we were still doing this every year, and so they can still remember in their own way, they can pick up a package and walk individually or as a family, today or this week and just remember in their own way.”
One of the people who chose to continue the tradition of a walk at Bud Miller Park was Desiree Cornet-Wile. Wile has been fighting for mental health awareness and anti-bullying after the tragic loss of her 15-year-old son Jayden to suicide last year. She’s been keeping the discussion going through her initiative Jayden’s Story.
As part of this, she announced on social media the night before Suicide Prevention Day that she would be doing a walk for friends and family to remember her son, and people gravitated to be part of the walk. She says she hopes that this removes the stigma of talking about mental health or suicide and these kinds of feelings.
“Using Jayden’s story, he lived to help other people, and so if we can use that to help one, that’s more than enough for me, but the fact that we’ve helped hundreds, and so many people have come to show their love, it’s really bringing that awareness forward.”
Wile adds that so many people, including family, friends, Jayden’s classmates, members of the community both young and old coming out to support them and have that conversation impacted her deeply.
“It’s overwhelming because I feel so alone, and my husband is amazing and he’s my rock, but as a mom, it’s indescribable the emptiness that you feel, and to know I have this support is overwhelming.”
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.