April 6, 2018 6:51 am
Updated: April 9, 2018 12:31 pm

Baseball tournament to raise awareness for mental health, opioid addiction

The opioid death of a young Lakefield man is being turned into something his family hopes will prevent similar tragedies. Brent Upper died last July. Now, a baseball tournament is being organized in his name along with that of a friend who lost his life to suicide.

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The opioid death of a young Lakefield, Ont., man is being turned into something his family hopes will prevent similar tragedies.

The Brent Upper and Jake Stanley Memorial Ball Tournament is being held July 21, with proceeds going to the local health association and Lakefield Minor Hockey, Upper’s home hockey team.

The tournament is named in memory of two friends from Lakefield, a small village northwest of Peterborough, who experienced mental health issues and addiction.

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Stanley, 20, lost his life to suicide in 2015. Upper, 22, died in July 2017, a victim of the opioid crisis washing over the province.

READ MORE: Ontario Budget: Additional investment of $2.1 B in mental health

“He would be so honored and it would be totally something he would do too,” said  Upper’s mother, Sheri Erickson.

Erickson said the family didn’t know Upper was suffering.

Kerri Davies of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association says that’s no surprise. “Fifty percent of the people who live with mental illness never seek support and the reason they don’t seek support is because they’re embarrassed because of that stigma.”

Upper was very active in local sports. He played hockey, baseball and rugby.

Erickson said organizing a sporting event in his name seemed like a good idea. “It’s just incredible. The positive feedback I’ve had for it and the tremendous amount of support has just been overwhelming.”

Jake Stanley had a passion for boxing.

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Davies agrees.

“Ball tournaments and hockey tournaments and football games and things like that bring people into a space where there are resources available and people have conversations that they normally wouldn’t have,” she said.

The tournament isn’t until July 21, and already it’s filled with 16 teams. However, organizers says donations are welcome.

Proceeds will go to the local health association and Lakefield Minor Hockey, Upper’s home hockey team.

Donations can be made online to the Brent Upper Memorial Ball Tournament or you can download a pledge sheet.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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