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Posted: September 19, 2022

CMHA Kootenays shines brightly at suicide awareness event

By Erin Knutson

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kootenays Branch shed light on World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) Saturday (Sept. 10) after hosting the packed event at Rotary Park in Cranbrook.

“We are here to support our community with challenges around isolation and loss. We are here to provide resources and unite people who have lost someone to suicide and to support someone thinking about suicide,” said Director of Public Education and Crisis Services Natalie Hake, who emceed the event.

Guests spoke to the day’s message of creating hope through action.

Dignitaries, members of the Ktunaxa Nation, CMHA Kootenays staff, volunteers, and suicide awareness speakers told the story of suicide, intending to reduce the stigma around the issue.

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka spoke poignantly about the importance of shedding light on the topic.

“Often, it’s the darkest before the dawn,” he said.

Shypitka’s message to look to the stars in the darkest moments and remember that things can always get better and that hope always shines in the dark was heard by attendees.

Suicide survivors told personal stories about loss, recovery, and coming through the other side, spreading the message that we are not alone and that it is never too late to seek help.

The event’s overall message was creating hope through action and seeing the light in the dark, with a candlelight vigil following speeches and culminating in a warm and thoughtful evening filled with promise and accompanied by various agencies and support groups to help anyone seeking it.

“Reach out – someone cares, and don’t give up,” said the speakers to anyone struggling with suicide ideation.

If you are interested in becoming a crisis line worker, please call Natalie Hake at 250-426-5222 ext 3063. We are here to listen if you are in crisis or need to talk. For 24-hour help, call:

1-888-353-CARE (2273) for the Crisis Line

310-6789 for the Mental Health Crisis Line

Or 1-800 Suicide (1-800-784-2433) if you want information, resources, or support during a suicide-related crisis for suicide-specific concerns.

Lead image: Natalie Hake and Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka. Photos by Erin Knutson


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