A vigil was held in Kinsmen Park on Sept. 10 to remember those who lost their lives to suicide, as well as to raise local awareness.
The event happens annually in Strathmore according to Strathmore Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) social development coordinator, Victoria Odell.
“Today is our annual community vigil for world suicide prevention day,” she said on Sept. 10.
“This is our third year running it and basically it gives community members the opportunity to have support from community organizations and have a chance to see how suicide has impacted the community.”
The origin of the awareness event, she explained, came from community members who were concerned and wanted to offer another resource locally for those feeling the impacts of a suicide.
“It was just recognized that we needed the opportunity for community members to be able to reach out in, kind of like a public forum that is a little less formal than potentially reaching out to individualized counselors.”
According to Statistics Canada, the age groups that have seen the highest rate of suicide in 2021 are between 45 and 49, and those who are 25 to 29 years of age.
Suicide rates in Canada, depending on age group, generally were two to six times higher for men than for women in 2021. A trend of higher suicide rates in men is shown in Statistics Canada reports dating back to 2003.
Odell said the annual awareness event has been making a difference for the local community, as more people tend to show up year after year.
“It has made a pretty significant impact. We do get quite a good turnout — I think last year … it was about 20 to 30 people that did come,” she said.
“From a community perspective, I definitely think it’s … brought people to recognize it and say it out loud.”
The Centre for Suicide Prevention was involved in the vigil, which offers a variety of awareness events and campaigns annually, including a run for life, provided suicide education and taught intervention skills.
“[They] can also get resources if they’re worried about somebody they care about, or for those [who] might be having feelings or thoughts of suicide, this is their way of getting support,” said Odell.
Many resources are easily accessible online for those who may be considering suicide, as well as for those who may be concerned for the well being of someone they know.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times