September is Suicide Prevention Month, but the Kelowna branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association wants Okanagan residents to know that help is available year round.
This week, CMHA Kelowna staff and participants held a lantern walk and lakeside memory circle. The organization says awareness campaigns such as these can help reduce stigma, but they are just a start.
“Our goal is to have everyone in our community to be equipped to support a loved one, or even a stranger, to keep safe if they are having thoughts of suicide,” said Aaryn Secker, CMHA Kelowna’s community education facilitator.
CMHA Kelowna says it regularly offers suicide alertness and intervention courses year round, such as safeTALK, a half-day suicide alertness course, or the two-day ASIST Applied Suicide Intervention Skill Training course. There are also ongoing programs through their wellness development centre, workplace training department, and the Foundry Kelowna integrated youth clinic, of which CMHA Kelowna is the lead agency.
“You don’t need to be a medical professional to support someone to connect with services in our community,” said Secker. “The skills learned in these training courses can be applied throughout a lifetime, beyond one day or month of the year.”
CMHA Kelowna says if you are having thoughts of suicide or you are concerned about someone you know or love, talk with them. The branch also said if someone is seriously considering suicide, they may be relieved that they can talk about it, and that if someone is thinking about suicide, you can help connect them to crisis services. You can call 1-800-Suicide (2433); Kelowna’s community response team at 250-212-8533, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week; or 9-1-1.