Suicide Awareness Walk held in memory of suicide victims

Jodi Schellenberg
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When a group of young people lost a friend to suicide last December, they didn’t know where to turn in their grief at first.

A group of five young Montreal Lake women, who call themselves Youth Creating Change, decided to put on the “You Are Not Alone” Suicide Awareness Walk.

“We wanted to do something about it because we have always been very close knitted so we are wanting to show people that suicide is real and it is something that is taboo,” Kimberley Beatty said. “It is not a subject people talk about. We wanted to make it aware that you can talk about it -- if you are feeling depressed, if you are feeling sad, then we are here to talk, we are here to listen.”

Their friend, Bridget Charles, was a mother of two and a close-knit part of the group.

“Some of us talked to her on a daily basis,” Beatty said. “There is a group of about eight or nine of us.

“We knew that she was depressed but we didn’t know how much she was or how serious it was,” she added. “It is taboo, no one ever really talks about it when they are feeling suicidal.”

After Charles died, the girls all stuck together with one of them, Neeyanna Nelson, helping them all through a healthy grieving process.

“We stayed together, those three consecutive days,” Beatty said. “We did slide show presentations and we wrote letters to her, regarding our best memory of her, our first memory of her and we put them in the casket with her.”

The friends and family of Charles were not the only ones out remembering someone they lost -- Jennifer Bird and her family were at the walk in memory of her daughter, Vikki, who committed suicide at 15 years old.

“She was in pain,” Bird said. “Her uncle passed away, my brother, in 2011 and her best friend a few days later.”

It was a tragic set of circumstances for Vikki, who was supposed to be hanging out with her best friend, who was a victim of a hit and run.

Not only did two people close to her die, Vikki was also a diabetic, her mother said.

“I had gone through counselling with her, took her to a counsellor about killing herself -- she kept saying she was going to kill herself because diabetes was ‘going to kill me anyway,’” Bird said. “We made it for a few years and then all of a sudden this (happened).”

The day Vikki killed herself, Bird didn’t know anything was wrong. She came home and her daughter seemed happy. Since Bird was tired, she went to bed but soon woke up thirsty.

“I went out to go drink water and I heard loud music downstairs,” she said. “I went to go turn it off and thought maybe she fell asleep on it or something like that. When I went downstairs and turned and I found her hanging there.

“It is still hard. I’m just keeping my tears in.”

She wants people who are suffering from depression to learn how to deal with pain and there to be more support for families and friends who have lost loved ones.

Since depression is often a warning sign before someone commits suicide, Bird said it is important people understand those who commit suicide are in pain.

“They are very ill,” Bird said. “I got that from my therapist. She was very ill. It is a mental thing that drives them to take their own lives.”

There isn’t a day that goes by when Bird doesn’t think about her daughter.

“She is still in our hearts -- everybody else too.”

The Suicide Awareness Walk was being held not only to support families like Bird’s but also to give more support to those with depression. Beatty said they had a couple of goals in mind.

“(We are) showing people that we’re supportive of whoever needs to talk,” she said. “There are community members -- even our age -- I know there are a lot of older people who do talk about it and they say they are there.”

Although there are many adults willing to help, Beatty said she understand that often youth do not want to talk with someone older than them.

“You want to go to your peers and we want to show that there are people like that out there,” Beatty said. “We want to maybe even encourage our peers to do the same thing, to be that listening ear.”

The walk will take three days. It started in Prince Albert on Friday and were planning to go as far as the Township Road on the way to Montreal Lake. After camping, they will start again at 9 a.m. on Saturday, going as far as Clairne Lake.

The walk will continue on Sunday morning and finish in Montreal Lake with a paper lantern ceremony. More information about the walk can be found at 

Since Montreal Lake is part of the Prince Albert Grand Council, they wanted to have an impact on more than just their immediate community, which is why they decided to do a three-day walk.

“It started off as a coffee session where we were just going to walk around the city limits and one of the members said, ‘Well, why don’t we walk from Montreal Lake to P.A.?’” Beatty said. “We ended up switching it around and taking the support back to our community.”

The group of women also want to continue doing events in the future to continue raising awareness. Some ideas they are considering are a crisis hotline in their community, professional therapy session for youth, programming to target substance abuse, violence, bullying and self-esteem issues and to create a youth chief and council.

Bird is thankful the girls put on the walk to raise awareness and had one very important message for everyone suffering from depression and considering suicide.

“Don’t do it, things will be alright in the future.”

Organizations: Prince Albert Grand Council

Geographic location: Montreal Lake, Township Road, Clairne Lake

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