To honour World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2013, the Winnipeg Suicide Prevention Network is hosting a free public event at Vimy Ridge Park from noon until 1:00 pm. Organizers hope the event will act to diminish the stigma still attached to mental illness.
Sheryl Giesbrecht, who has been with the Canadian Mental Health Association for over a decade, believes that it is not just adults who need to hear the message of suicide prevention.
“Young children attempt or commit suicide,” she says. “Children are smart and need to hear the proper information regarding what suicide means, and why someone would make this choice, from reliable sources.” Part of the goal of the event is to create a safe place to discuss suicide and educate people on the topic.
“It’s about reducing the taboo about suicide,” Giesbrecht says. “This is a way for people to become more comfortable and encourage them to talk about, discuss, and respond to suicide.”
Tim Wall, director of counselling services at Klinic Manitoba, co-chair of the Winnipeg Suicide Prevention Network and Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, is one of the central organizers of the event.
“We are not only trying to draw attention to ways to live a more healthy, calm, and balanced life,” Wall says, “but also to engage in a conversation about suicide prevention.”
The hour-long event is split into two main sessions. The first will be a self-compassion exercise which augments the theme of mindfulness and being present in the moment. Giesbrecht explains it’s a calming approach to addressing emotional pain, and helps to reduce anxiety and overwhelming thoughts.
Wall hopes the event will break records and become the largest compassion exercise to ever be completed in Manitoba.
“My hope is also that people will make a point of practicing this in their daily routines so they can live a more balanced life,” he explains.
The second part of the event is a celebration of life. This will be a time to remember and celebrate those who were claimed by suicide and those affected by mental illness.
The afternoon event will also feature a free BBQ lunch. “It will be a time to connect with others in the community,” Wall says. “Part of what we strive to do is nurture the connections in the community.”
This day of awareness will also be focused on educating people on available resources. “What someone knows about suicide prevention could save a life,” Wall says.