Kuu-us Crisis Line Society will mark Suicide Awareness Day in Port Alberni with a walk at Bob Dailey Stadium on Monday, Sept. 10.
This is the second annual walk to mark Suicide Awareness Week in Canada, which in 2018 will be from Sept. 3-10.
“Suicide happens to everyone and anyone,” says Elia Nicholson-Nave, executive director at Kuu-us, which operates a 24-hour crisis hotline and offers numerous support programs.
Colour, age, gender nor population determine who will have suicidal thoughts or die by suicide, said Ashley Amos, who has helped organize this year’s suicide prevention walk.
The first suicide prevention walk took place in 2016. Amos and Cassandra Martin organized it together after Martin’s brother died by suicide shortly after aging out of foster care.
“I helped her go through that,” Amos said. “We really started talking about it years ago when I lost my husband in 2010,” Amos said. “It took her going through it to get the determination to help me.”
A Suicide Prevention Walk did not happen in 2017 because Martin died that year and Amos did not want to do it without her. This year she’s ready.
“The first year we did it, it was amazing to see everybody,” Amos said. “For people who are going through suicidiation, it meant a lot to see everybody there.”
Organizers stress that while many people who attend the walk may be sad and shed tears, it’s not a time for sadness. “It’s where you gain strength from one another,” Nicholson-Nave said.
“This is in memory of, but we want others to come who have been impacted or are survivors of suicide, to be able to get support. There’s many memories and stories to tell, but it’s about just being together and knowing you’re not alone.”
Estelle Edgar, a support worker with Kuu-us, said that’s an important point. “A lot of people think they’re the only one,” she explained.
“The message we want to get across is you’re not alone,” Nicholson-Nave said. “There are services out there that can help you get through your crisis.”
There will be crisis outreach workers onsite at Bob Dailey Stadium during the walk, if anyone needs to talk to someone, she added. The walk will take place from 1–3 p.m. at the stadium, rain or shine and is open to all ages.
“I hope what someone can gain from this is there’s support,” said Kateri Deutsch, also a Kuu-us support worker.
For more information on the Suicide Prevention Walk, please call the Kuu-us Crisis Line Society at 250-723-4050 or follow the Port Alberni Suicide Awareness Walk on Facebook.