KELOWNA, B.C. – It’s been a tough year for Kelowna’s Silverbacks.
The band has lost three of their friends and family to suicide.
“Our band has been impacted, devastated by suicide over the past year,” says guitarist Gord Vizzutti.
A bandmate, a son, a niece: lives that have ended in tragedy and have left the band feeling emotionally raw.
“None of us saw it coming for the people that we were affected by, that we lost,” says James Dow.
Marcel Tips Leblanc, the band’s vocalist, wants to help raise awareness and prevent others from taking their lives like his own son.
“You don’t have to do it, you just have to tell somebody,” says Leblanc. “Talk about it.”
The Silverbacks are holding a fundraiser on Halloween night at the East Kelowna Hall. Funds raised will go back to suicide prevention and awareness programs at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Kelowna branch. Tickets for the October 31st fundraising dance can be purchased through their Facebook page or at Roberts Custom Framing on Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna.
This is Mental Illness Week in Canada.
The Kelowna branch has launched a campaign called Get Loud. Kelowna residents are asked to sign a pledge to speak up and speak loudly for mental health assistance, programs and awareness.
“We’re trying to call the people of our community to get loud,” says Candace Giesbrecht, Director of Community Engagement and Fundraising. “The pledge just basically says if I’m struggling, I’ll talk to somebody, if I see somebody struggling I’ll talk to them.”
The pledge can be found at their website www.cmhakelowna.org
Geisbrecht says mental illness accounts for 15 per cent of medical issues but only receives 8 per cent of the funding.
About 500 people commit suicide in BC every year.