Marilyn Irwin lost her son, MacRae, to suicide.
“He owned his own home, was married at one time, then got a divorce, lost his job then had depression,” she said. “He really struggled to get help.”
Irwin is now an advocate for better mental health care in the province, a need she believes is overwhelming.
“We need more,” she explained. ”We need the professionals on the front lines with the knowledge skills and the abilities to work with these complex cases.”
WATCH: (Sept. 5, 2019) Vernon, B.C. father shares story ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day
Faith Bodnar with the Canadian Mental Association in Saskatoon said World Suicide Prevention Day was created to raise awareness about mental health and reduce the stigma.
“I think there is a growing realization that we need to talk about this, we need to be more proactive and we need to make it more of priority,” she said.
“Saskatchewan has the second-highest suicide rate in Canada next to Nunavut.”
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) reported suicide rates in Indigenous populations are four times higher than the rest of the province.
Bodnar said they want to see the province treat mental illness the same way they would a physical injury.
“We need to develop a strategy for families for individuals who are struggling,” he said. “It needs to be more than just crisis intervention.”
Irwin is working with other mothers across Saskatchewan facing similar “lived experience” to petition the provincial government for change and she says she won’t give up until there is a simpler system for people facing mental illness to access the help they need.
“I want people to know about my son,” she said. “I don’t want people to forget him or what happened to myself, my family, and the injustice that’s happened along the way.”
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 Prevention, Depression 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.