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'Big part of my healing journey': Suicide Prevention Day hits close to home
Each year on September 10, the Kennedy sisters want to hug each other a little tighter.
The day marks World Suicide Prevention Day – an opportunity to raise awareness on suicide and reduce the stigma of mental health.
Callie Kennedy lost her fourth sister, Brianne, to suicide in 2004 and has candidly shared the story of her loss ever since.
"I think at that time it wasn’t something that people really talked about. Suicide wasn’t something I was really educated about. For me, it was a big part of my healing journey, along with my twin sisters to just be able to open up," she said.
According to the World Health Organization, 800,000 people die by suicide each year.
In Canada, an estimated 4,000 people die by suicide annually, with Saskatchewan having some of the highest rates of youth suicide in the country and Indigenous girls reportedly being most at risk.
Rallies were held across the country and in Saskatoon Tuesday, where the movement is personal for Barbara Cape. She lost her brother, Chris, to suicide in 2017.
"That’s a moment where your world is essentially stopped and even today I still have moments where I’m caught off guard," said Cape, the president of Service Employees’ International Union-West (SEIU).
Cape works with community groups around the city for world suicide awareness.
"We need to be able to step forward and acknowledge that we don’t know anything, but also step forward and say I want to learn, I want to build my capacity to be that resource in my community."
If it were up to Cape, World Suicide Prevention Day would be much longer than 24 hours.
"If I had my druthers, it wouldn’t be a day. It would be a week, it would be a month, it would be all the time," she said.
Similar to Cape, Kennedy is hoping to play her part by sharing her story to give people the courage to share theirs.
"We kind of spend this day each year trying to provide as much awareness as we can and hopefully prevent other families from having to go through what we did," Kennedy said.