CORNWALL, Ontario – Close to 40 people attended the first in-person event in Cornwall to recognize World Suicide Prevention Day held on September 10. World Suicide Prevention Day seeks to raise awareness to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and educate people in an effort to reduce suicides.
Organized by the local Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Champlain East, the event featured close to an hour of yoga instruction, an awards ceremony and a candle lighting service.
Michelle Neville, a mental health leader with the Carleton District School Board of Eastern Ontario, mentioned globally 793,000 people die because of suicide annually and every 40 seconds a person dies because of suicide. Juliette LaBossiere, Executive Director with the United Way/Centraide of SDG, who attended the event with her children explained the United Way provides funding to the CMHA and Bereaved Families of Ontario for mental health promotion.
As the event began, Senator Bernadette Clement expressed her appreciation to the CMHA for their assistance over the last 18 months providing “strength, encouragement, resilience and love” during this difficult time. Angele D’Alessio, CMHA Champlain East Mental Health Promotor, thanked everyone for coming out and commented there is support available during the event should it be needed.
Yoga instructor Jill Hodgson, who recently returned to private practice from a position with the CMHA Champlain East, explained yoga helps people to gain physical, mental and emotional health, led the group assembled in a series of beginner yoga exercises.
Following yoga, Stephen Douris spoke to those present about his journey which included suicidal thoughts, which was followed by the presentation of awards to several individuals and organizations for their work in the field of mental health.
The night ended with people being provided with candles and once lite were encouraged to think about their loved ones, with the light of love shining through the darkness.