A Vernon father is sharing his story ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, hoping to motivate others to seek help when they need it.
The call comes as data reveals that B.C.’s Interior Health region, which includes the Okanagan, has higher suicide rates than many other parts of the province.
Statistics compiled in a BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel Report, released in August, show Interior Health had the highest rate of youth suicide in B.C.
The report looked at deaths by suicide of youth between the ages of 10 and 18 from the beginning of 2013 to mid-2018.
During that time, 33 young people in the Interior died by suicide, the highest of any health region in the province.
For the general population, the most recent numbers from 2017 show the suicide rate in the Interior was the second-highest of any health region, behind only Northern Health.
Vernon father Jeff Teale lost his 26-year-old son Dallas to suicide last year. He said learning the statistics around suicide brought tears to his eyes.
His son’s death has turned him into an advocate for suicide prevention.
He’ll be speaking at an event in Polson Park on Tuesday, Sept. 10 to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, urging people to seek help.
“You’re not alone out there is my message,” he said.
Teale points out that help is available for those struggling with their mental health and also those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
After his son’s death, Teale joined a suicide grief support group to work through the loss.
Teale said he appreciated being able to shed tears and share stories with people who had gone through the same thing.
“I’m thankful that I had this group to go to,” he said.
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On Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, the Canadian Mental Health Association will host its annual ‘Be the Light’ event in Vernon to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Polson Park Bandshell and will feature speakers, lantern making and a short ceremony.
“Sometimes people feel that when they are having these thoughts, they are alone and they have no one to talk to. That’s not true,” said Naaz Grewal, a community educator with the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“By holding the event, we can show that we are here together as a community to support one another,”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the Interior Crisis Line Network, available 24/7, at 1-888-3523-CARE (2273). For more information on suicide and to find help nearest you, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
Please call 911 for immediate help.