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Residents rally for suicide prevention
Marchers push message of reaching out

Sarah Ladik
Northern News Services
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dozens of residents turned out to break the stigma against reaching out for help at last week's suicide prevention march.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sam Kerr, left, and Crystal Navratil work on posters to carry during the suicide prevention march at Aurora College Sept. 10. - Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo

"You are all here tonight, actively breaking that stigma," Jamie Norris, co-organizer of the event, told a room of people at Aurora College Sept. 10. "The theme for this year is reaching out; reaching out to people who might be thinking about suicide, and reaching out to people who might be affected by suicide."

The event in Inuvik was part of a wave of international rallies for World Suicide Prevention Day. About 50 or so people showed up to make posters, march, and share stories and strength about an issue that is particularly prevalent in the North.

"We feel that it's needed," said Norris. "In the last number of years suicide is being openly talked about more and more, and it's events like this that allow for that to happen."

The international movement started in the early 2000s and Inuvik was quick to get on board.

Norris said the idea was simply to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention, and in so doing, encourage people who need help to ask for it.

"It's all about breaking that stigma," he said. "Bringing it out of the darkness and the shadows and into the light."

The march last week was also an opportunity for a more practical approach.

Throughout the evening, frontline workers from various organizations in the community, such as victims services and community counselling, stood up in front of the group and introduced themselves. Ali McConnell, co-organizer of the event, said that it can be hard to ask for help from a stranger and that sometimes just knowing there will be a friendly face at the other end of the phone or other side of the table can make a huge difference.

"They get to know the people and the resources, she said. "And hopefully knowing there's a friendly face will help them connect with help."

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