It’s one of those topics that’s talked about in hushed asides or carefully worded conversations.
Jolene Lindsey with Kamloops Mental Health and Substance Use Services wants to bring the topic of suicide out into the open, to remove the stigma associated with it and to allow those who have lost loved ones to celebrate the lives they lived.
One of the ways she plans to do all of that is by organizing the first ever Kamloops Suicide Awareness and Prevention Day.
The public event is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 10, from noon to 4:30 p.m. at Riverside Park.
Despite the seriousness behind the gathering, Lindsey wants it to be as upbeat and open as possible.
“We need to do something, bring this topic out of the shadows, something big where people can remember loved ones lost with pride instead of stigma,” she said.
“We have three goals: to create awareness and visibility for suicide prevention, to reduce stigma and to create connections and support within the community.”
With the kite as the symbol for suicide awareness, people who attend are invited to come out and fly the brightest ones they have.
“We don’t expect suicide to be associated with a bright and playful thing. But we want people to fly kites in memory of a loved one,” she said.
People can also write messages on ribbons and pin them to a master kite that will be flown.
“The more people we talk to about it, the more people who are saying, ‘I know somebody’ or, ‘I’ve lost a loved one.’ Stigma is a huge, huge piece. Breaking that stigma helps go along with bringing suicide out of the shadows.”
Lindsey’s office is part of Interior Health, but many other agencies are also jumping on board for the event, including the school district, Tk’emlups Indian Band, Indian Friendship Centre, White Buffalo, Child and Youth Mental Health, the North Shore Elks (who are firing up the barbecue) and the Kamloops Art Gallery.
Even the Big Little Science Centre will be there to help with kite-making.
There will also be drumming, zumba and yoga.
Eventually, Lindsey is hoping a survivors’ peer network will be sparked by suicide awareness day. Although similar events have been held in other cities for years, this is a Kamloops first.
“This event hopefully will steer what we do in the future for coming years. We needed to start somewhere,” she said.
“Its not about how somebody died, it’s about how they lived.”