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Stop ignoring suicide: youth

Red Deer youth are saying it’s time to discuss the elephant in the room that is being ignored — suicide.

A Facebook group page, Suicide Awareness Red Deer, it’s #timeforchange, had over 5,400 members as of early Thursday evening and was gaining new members by the hour.

The social media page, started recently, is dedicated to six “young lives”.

“We have lost six lives in the past year in Red Deer ALONE,” the page says.

Members on the page are sharing their stories of pain, inspiration and hope to bring awareness to the problem and prevent more suicides.

The intention is to raise money for an awareness campaign, with any remaining profit donated to Suicide Information and Education Services of Red Deer.

Red Deer City Councillor Cindy Jefferies, who heard about the group this week, said Thursday that one of her sons, who is still in high school, would come home and tell her another student had died.

“With each one you kind of think: What is going on? It just seems there’s more and more. It makes you wonder if there isn’t something more going on that we’re missing,” Jefferies said.

“I’m concerned that as a community we need to change. We need to do something different and we need to try and address some of the concerns our teenage population is facing.”

The Facebook page shows leadership from Red Deer youth, which is critical, Jefferies said.

“I think that they’ve created a wonderful forum for people to share their stories, and for those who are listening, to understand things in a different way.”

As teens, they understand their world and the issues they face, like cyber bullying, in a way that adults don’t, she said.

“I think there is a lot of pressure to succeed. There are so many choices as far as careers and opportunities before you, and just being a teenager. We all know from having been teenagers it’s not an easy time in your life.

“I understand our teen suicide rates in Alberta are higher than most places in Canada. That’s a concern. It does make you question whether our fast pace of life and strong economic activity has taken away from some of the things we need to be paying attention to,” Jefferies said.

Greg Hall, principal of Notre Dame High School, said there has been a lot of support coming forward from students across the city on the issue of suicide prevention.

“Hunting Hills, Thurber, Notre Dame, etcetera, kids are really together on this, that this is a significant community issue,” Hall said.

“Our Notre Dame grad service project this year is on suicide education and prevention.”



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