Life is Worth Living: sisters reducing the stigma surrounding suicide
The Kennedy sisters don’t ever want to see another family go through the tragedy they experienced.
In 2004, at the age of 19, their older sister Brianne Kennedy took her own life.
“Brianne was our beautiful older sister. We always looked up to her,” Jacklyn Kennedy said. “She was intelligent, talented, and she really could have done anything in her life.”
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In Canada there are approximately 4,000 suicide deaths every year – that is 10 people's lives lost to suicide every single day. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We have been spreading awareness about mental health and suicide since the day we lost Brianne in 2004. However, the Life is Worth Living idea came to life in a grade 9 health class where we (Callie & Jaclyn) were required to present on a chronic illness to the class. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We chose depression – which many people probably wouldn't consider a chronic illness. Why is this? It seems that many people don't have a very thorough understanding of mental illness which contributes to the stigma. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How can we make people realize and understand the importance of our mental health so that when people say they are struggling they are taken seriously? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This is a picture of the four of us a few weeks before Brianne took her own life – would you ever guess from this photo that her pain was so unbearable that she thought her only option left was suicide… ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #lifeisworthlivingbck #lifeisworthliving #bck #suicideawareness #briannekennedy #mentalillness #mentalillnessawareness #endthestigma #starttheconversation
Brianne left behind three younger sisters: Jaclyn, Callie and Shalyn. The Kindersley, Sask., natives have launched an awareness campaign and clothing line called Life is Worth Living BCK to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide.
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For every suicide death, 7-10 people are profoundly affected. We as suicide survivors have been left to pick up the pieces and to try to navigate life without our older sister, Brianne. We didn't get a chance to say good bye, so many questions have been left unanswered. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Life is Worth Living Crew Neck Sweaters are available for purchase for $50.00. Wear the sweater, start a conversation, spread the message Life is Worth Living. All proceeds are donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Thanks to @motifmarketing for bringing our idea to life. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📷: @missjacksoniamforreal ✨ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ DM or email for purchase: email@example.com 📧 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #lifeisworthliving #bck #mentalillnessawareness #briannekennedy #sisters #suicideawareness #endthestigma #suicide #mentalhealth #mentalillness
They have shared their story in schools across Saskatchewan.
“Talking about it has helped heal us … and helped with our grieving after losing Brianne,” Jaclyn said.
Callie adds that it’s important to “be able to keep her memory alive and to share with other people that mental illness can affect anyone.”
“If you look at my sister in lots of her pictures, even the week leading up to her death, you wouldn’t see a girl who is feeling so much pain inside that she doesn’t think her life is worth living anymore.”
All proceeds from T-shirts and sweaters sold go to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The sisters have already donated $1,500 to CMHA in memory of Brianne, and hope to make another donation soon.
“It’s something that we need to talk about and bring to the surface and get rid of this stigma,” Callie added.
WATCH BELOW: How to talk to your kids about mental health
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