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Youth against mental illness stigma group speaking up in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — A group of high school students is aiming to spark conversation about mental illness in Manitoba.

After hearing about the recent student suicides at Garden City Collegiate and other schools in the province, Loizza Aquino decided to organize a group called Peace of Mind 204.

“We want people to know it’s okay to ask for help,” Aquino said.

She lost her best friend to suicide at Vincent Massey Collegiate in June and has continued to work with other students affected on a Youth Against Mental Illness Stigma summit.

“It’s important to spread the word and create conversation instead of not talking about mental illness,” Aquino said.

The dream of creating a platform for peers to speak up and together became a reality in Winnipeg on Thursday.

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More than 100 students, parents and teachers joined together to share their mental illness experiences with one another at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People.

“With my friends passing away within a week of one another we said we don’t want anyone else killing themselves,” Vincent Massey Collegiate student Brian Murphy said.

The goal is to raise awareness within the school board and organize more events encouraging students to help each other.