By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Augusta Waddell’s undying love is keeping the memory of her son, Davi Freire, alive with every life their story touches. In 2010, he committed suicide at the age of 27, after years of struggling with bipolar disorder.
© Adam Brazeau
Canadian Mental Health Association speaker Augusta Waddell holds a picture of her son, Davi Freire, who committed suicide three years ago after a long battle with bipolar disorder. She is making her voice heard to raise awareness about mental health issues and suicide prevention. Waddell is starting a suicide support group where she lives in Iroquois, Ontario.
Three years later, Waddell is actively speaking out as a board member for the Canadian Mental Health Association and sits on the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Champlain East. She speaks at high schools throughout the five counties, various mental health functions and is starting a mental health family support group in Iroquois, where she lives.
“My son is my inspiration,” said Waddell. “My message continues his legacy of trying to help others. It brings him closer to me.”
For Waddell, and her family, the loss of a son, brother, athlete, university student months shy of completing a four-year university program in psychology and a volunteer with various social programs was overwhelming.
“We were all devastated,” said Waddell. “It was a shock for everybody.”
The first time Freire attempted suicide was at the age of 15. By the time he was 17 he tried four times. Waddell said she could see signs of mental health issues since he was five years old.
In public, everything was fine on the surface. Freire, an active runner, was a keen student and donated his time to volunteer at literacy and mentoring programs where he lived in Ottawa. The tough teen years when he felt bullied and isolated seemed to be behind him.
“He could hide it so well,” said Waddell.
She wants the silence that accompanies suicide to be broken. Waddell encourages those affected by suicide or going through suicidal thoughts to contact their local mental health unit or speak to friends and family.
“The help is out there,” she said. “Please extend your hand.”
She also noted the toll it took on Freire’s younger siblings who felt they were helpless in the matter as children and teens. Waddell said they might also have information on the mood and behaviour of the person who is in a suicidal state of mind.
“Don’t assume what they know,” she said. “Family members and friends, they hurt, and they don’t know if they can talk about it.”
In memory of her son, friends rallied together to start ‘Run for Davi,’ a way to fundraise for mental health organizations during the popular Ottawa Race weekend every May.
Waddell still beams with pride over the altruistic nature of Freire and keeps it as her motivation to stay strong and raise awareness on mental health issues and suicide.
“If I can save one life, it’s all worth it,” she said.
Contact Augusta Waddell at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit:
www.reachoutnow.ca (local suicide prevention website).
www.cmha-east.on.ca (local mental health services SDG/PR).
http://www.iasp.info/wspd/ (world suicide prevention day website).