International Suicide Prevention Day activities held at Wilfrid Laurier

Photo by Paige Bush
Photo by Paige Bush

The Kitchener-Waterloo area community came together last Saturday at Wilfrid Laurier University’s campus to honour World Suicide Prevention Day.

The date of September 10 was chosen back in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and has been celebrated by the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, ever since.

Though historically held at Kitchener City Hall, the location was moved this year to allow for a partnership with Mysterious Barricades, a national concert being held at Laurier.

“Mysterious Barricades is a concert that is going to be happening today, so it’s running from 1-2:30, and it is a cross-Canada, so it’s running 18 hours,” said Elisa Brewer-Singh, program coordinator with the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council.

“It started in St. John’s Newfoundland at sunrise. We’re sort of at the point where it’s cascading over to us, so we’re about to go live and then it will continue on afterwards until sunset in British Columbia.”

The concert, meant to bring awareness to suicide prevention on a global scale, was held in 13 locations across the country, of which Laurier’s Waterloo campus was a chosen site and broadcast across the world.

Mysterious Barricades was just one of the events held in Waterloo, which also included a BBQ, speaker series by the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council on this year’s international theme of ‘connect, communicate, care’ and an information fair where community and school organisations were invited to hold booths.

“I think the time has come to think of mental illness like any illness. Where, when you’re feeling the symptoms, things don’t feel quite right, you seek the help that you need,” said Georgina de Barros, multicultural outreach worker with K-W Counselling Services.

“There shouldn’t be any reason why, like with any illness, you don’t deserve to get the help when you need it, you deserve proper care and the proper time. So I think events like this really show everybody that there’s resources out there, that there’s no need to be embarrassed or ashamed.”

The day was ended with the annual butterfly release in the Quad, a symbolic event which brought together the Laurier and K-W communities in honour of the lives lost and the hope shared by participants for a brighter future.

Though this is the first time the event has been held on Laurier’s campus, the importance of student involvement in prevention and awareness is not lost.

“If we’re students recognizing that the policy on campus is not suitable for every student and the wellness centre is overwhelmed and students aren’t accessing the support that they need, then students really need to sort of engage with each other and sort of demand that change and demand that it’s important,” said Karen Kipper, co-president of Bridging the Gap, an on-campus club with aim to bring about changes regarding mental health.

“I think we need to get our priorities in check as students and make sure that everyone is getting the support they need.”

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