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Suicide Awareness Day recognized in Adjala-Tosorontio

September 18, 2020   ·   0 Comments

The pandemic’s disruption to routine and everyday life has had a pronounced impact on mental health.

Now more than ever Canadians are experiencing a decline in their mental state and an increase in suicidal thoughts, according to a recent study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association.

In times of turmoil, the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council (SCSAC) is here to help and recently boosted awareness in Adjala-Tosorontio on National Suicide Awareness Day (September 10) through the donation of a park bench and tree at its Municipal Centre

“The idea of the tree is that it will grow up and provide shade and a place to really kind of reflect… if you need to go and remember somebody,” noted Lee Matthieu, SCSAC member.

Cst. Katy Viccary of the Nottawasaga OPP said her detachment is very grateful for this year’s memorial bench and tree as well as the work being done by SCSAC throughout the region.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to work together in an effort to raise awareness about suicide, mental illness and suicide prevention. It’s important to promote an understanding about suicide, those impacted by suicide attempt or loss, and to provide resources to anyone struggling,” she said. “Together, we can make a difference.”

The Suicide Awareness event provided an opportunity for New Tecumseth, Adjala-Tosorontio and the surrounding community to join together, recognize the impact of suicide, receive education on the topic and strive toward prevention.

The new park bench that was unveiled at the event was purchased by the SCSAC and sourced from the funds they raise annually at their Annual Walk for Suicide Awareness.

It’s the fifth bench that’s been purchased and installed by the Council, Orillia, Midland, Angus and Barrie were chosen in the past.

“We think it’s really important to put a bench in every community in our area now, it brings awareness and it brings people together,” noted Bernadette Ramsay-Copeland, SCSAC Chairperson. “We want this community to know they don’t have to struggle alone; it doesn’t have to be so isolating.”

She said it’s important to reduce the stigma around suicide, which the council has been successful in achieving over the last 12 years, since it was established.

When SCSAC first started, they had calls from people sharing their story of loss to suicide dating back 30 or 40 years because they never had a place to discuss their grief openly.

“That was shocking to us that people held onto that grief for so long. Now when we run the group, we’re getting people who are calling us saying last week, last month they lost somebody and I think that’s tremendous progress that we’ve made over those years,” noted Ramsay-Copeland.

“It’s really nice to hear people are reaching out sooner.”

OPP Association President Rob Jamieson said SCSAC’s work has been phenomenal in addressing stigma and he’s proud of the community for getting more involved.

“I think back a few years and I don’t know if we would have all these people standing here today talking about these issues so openly,” he noted during the memorial bench unveiling last Thursday.

“I think on this day we need to reflect, because the issue of suicide effects us all directly or indirectly, we all know of a family, we all know of a personal situation, sometimes we don’t want to talk about it, we don’t want to think about it, but these are the conversations that are tough and we have to have.”

SCSAC member Lee Matthieu has been writing and providing music to the council’s events for the last six years after losing her cousin in December of 2011 and her best friends’ daughter in early January of 2012 to suicide.

“My friend was really struggling… it was so heartbreaking watching her in so much pain, I was hoping the song would help her to realize that you’re not alone and you can’t change it, as much as you miss them,” said Matthieu.

Robert Morales, who spoke on behalf of MP Terry Dowdall during the Suicide Awareness Day event, said that he’s found the older he gets the more people he knows who have attempted to commit suicide and are struggling with their mental health.

“If there’s anyone struggling with mental health issues or thoughts of suicide, your life is precious, don’t forget that, someone out there loves you even if you don’t think anyone does,” he said.

Nottawasaga OPP Inspector Steve Ridout said mental health impacts everyone differently for a variety of reasons and it’s never too late to get help.

“By working together as a community, we can create awareness about suicide and mental illness, support those who have been affected by suicide and promote suicide prevention. We urge anyone struggling to reach out for help and know that you are not alone,” he said.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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