Cornwall Comes Together and Takes Action to Prevent Suicide

Krystine Therriault - Seaway News
Cornwall Comes Together and Takes Action to Prevent Suicide
Nick Danaher and Meara MacDonell were present for World Suicide Prevention Day to accept the Living Works Community Impact Award on behalf of the Glengarry Mental Health Initiative. Members not pictured here: Lachlan McDonell, Hannah McDonell, Sara Laking, and Lauren McLeod (Photo : Krystine Therriault/Seaway News)

On Saturday, September 10, 2022, several community organizations participated in “Passports to Hope” – Creating Hope Through Action, a World Suicide Prevention Day event. Held at the Cornwall Public Library, the event was co-hosted by the Suicide Prevention Coalition and CMHA Champlain East.

Each organization that was present at this event plays an important role in supporting the mental health of individuals in Cornwall and the counties.

Local organizations with a table at the event included the Mental Health and Addictions Centre, Inspire Community Services, Men Talk, Bereaved Families of Cornwall, United Way, MOOD Kits by Emily Millar, EOHU, The Glengarry Mental Health Initiative, Diversity Cornwall, Seaway Valley Community Health Centre, l’équipe psycho-sociale, Parent’s Lifeline, and more.

Participants were asked to interact with each table, learn a little about the services they provide, and get a password to put on their ‘passport’. Those who collected the most passwords were entered in a draw to win $100 in wellness supplies and other prizes.

Throughout the two-hour event there were several guest speakers. The first speaker, Katelin Morrissette, led the group in a mindfulness and breathing exercise. She stressed the importance of finding time to be in the present moment in a culture that often measures our worth by how much we do.

The next guest speaker was Sergeant Scott Coulter, who oversees crime prevention in the city. Part of his duties include supervising the VSMART (Vulnerable Sector Mobile Acute Response Team) program.

“If you asked a police officer 10… 15… 20 years ago what policing was all about it would be like getting into that car chase, foot chase, doing drug raids, kicking down doors and all that good TV stuff,” said Coulter, “but the reality of it is, catching bad guys has slipped down on the list and we deal with people in crisis on a daily basis now.”

The VSMART unit consists of a specially trained police officer and a social worker employed through the hospital. The VSMART team responds to calls in plain clothes. They also arrive in a grey, unmarked vehicle to put those in crisis who may be wary of police more at ease. One of the primary goals of the VSMART unit is to reduce apprehensions within the vulnerable sector.

After Sergeant Coulter, Emily Millar was asked to come up and talk about her MOOD Kits. A registered psychotherapist in the area, Millar developed her MOOD Kits during the pandemic to encourage people to acknowledge their feelings and take an active role in their mental wellness. These kits include a list of Emergency Mental Health Contacts and an invitation to create a Safety Plan for those with low mood and/or suicidal ideation.

Mitch, a volunteer with the CMHA, shared his powerful testimonial of growing up as a gay transgendered individual who has found self-love and acceptance after several suicide attempts.

Jessabelle Pettipas, a representative of CAPSA (Community Addictions Peer Support Association) also spoke at the event. Pettipas shared her story of institutionalization, long-term recovery (she will be six years sober in November), and her passion for removing stigma when it comes to speaking about mental health.

To wrap up the event, members of the Glengarry Mental Health Initiative were presented with the Living Works Community Impact Award after their very first fundraiser, a soccer tournament, raised more than $35,000 to support mental health in Cornwall and SDG.

This inspiring group of six young adults noticed the prevalence of mental illness, addiction, and suicide in our community and decided to act. With the help of Emily Millar, they compiled a list of services available in our community so people who are struggling know where to turn.

The Glengarry Mental Health Initiative will also be putting 10 MOOD Kits with mental wellness tools into each high school in the area and plan to fund subsidized therapy for those in need in our community.

Missed this event? Many of these community partners will be back for the 2nd annual Recovery Day Cornwall taking place at Lamoureux Park from 11am-4pm on Saturday, September 24th.

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