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Suicide prevention event to be held for second time

As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, an event geared towards supporting those affected by suicide will be run for the second time in Elmira.

To be held at Trinity United Church at 21 Arthur St., it will be hosted once again by Cathy Read-Wilson.

A suicide attempt survivor and long-time volunteer with the Waterloo Region Suicide Prevention Council, Read-Wilson approached the council about running the event again after its success last September, hoping to eventually make it an annual tradition.

“Last year we had a few individuals who worked in the mental health field who also had lived experience with suicide. This year … they’re individuals with lived experience with suicide but they don’t work in the mental health field, “she said of the speakers who will be attending the event.

Because of the stigma often surrounding the topic of suicide, this year’s speakers are taking a risk telling their stories.

While last year’s presenters were adult professionals, visitors will get a chance this year to hear from a much younger presenter. A local youth, now 15, will talk about a personal eight-year struggle with suicide.

“It’s very difficult to talk about [suicide]. They’re going public with their experience where individuals last year, had already done that.”

Dr. Mandy Wintink, a neuroscience expert, will help the audience delve into concepts of deep emotion, self-awareness and love citing Buddhist and yoga philosophies on the subjects.

Though Read-Wilson, believes in bringing the issue of suicide to light in Elmira, she admits that care should be taken with not only the speakers but the visitors as well.

“Because of the taboo and the stigma that goes along with the subject matter I think it’s harder or easier to varying degrees depending on what they’re bringing with them when they walk in the door,” she said.

During such events it’s important to be conscious of people’s reactions, Read-Wilson notes. Because the day may be extremely emotional for many, staff and organizers want to make sure no one leaves distraught until they can be comforted or talked to.

But despite the heavy subject matter, she said suicide prevention events are geared towards encouraging positivity.

“It’s not an evening that’s all somber and sad. I try to pull humor into things and last year we had a fair bit of that. There’s an opportunity to laugh, to cry, almost anything and everything depending on what will resonate with you,” Read-Wilson said, adding that this year’s theme of Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope, is about bringing a message of perseverance.

“It’s the idea that although we might have thoughts of suicide, through persistence, resiliency, determination, support of others, there is a way. It’s hard at times but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The event will be held on Sept. 10, running from 7 to 9 p.m. Speakers will present first, followed by a reflection and candle-lighting service for those who have been directly affected by suicide.


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