Ev­ery story I hear about some­one los­ing their child to sui­cide is shat­ter­ing — it is just an end­less jour­ney.

Ottawa Business Journal - Ottawa at Home - - LIVING GIVING BACK - — Stephanie Richard­son

is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death amongst our youth,” she em­pha­sizes.

This tragic cause of death is put into per­spec­tive by Stephanie. “Each year, the equiv­a­lent of three full school buses of chil­dren die of sui­cide in Canada, and many of them show no signs or symp­toms be­fore­hand, like Daron. We have the abil­ity to help those kids,” urges Stephanie. “Can you imag­ine if we said wH’rH nRW gRLng WR fix WKH RII-rDPS, wH’rH MusW go­ing to let three bus loads of kids fall off and die with­out do­ing any­thing about it?” she asks. “It just wouldn’t hap­pen.”

Stephanie is hum­bled by the com­mu­nity re­sponse to DIFD, but she is par­tic­u­larly im­pressed by the kids who are lead­ing the charge against teen sui­cide. “The youth in this city are fear­less. We have a gen­er­a­tion of kids who have be­come advocates,” she notes. “The kids bought in to this is­sue and they drove it, which is why I think it’s been suc­cess­ful.”

While DIFD is rais­ing aware­ness and mak­ing a tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence, the emo­tional scars will never fully heal for the Richard­son fam­ily. They will never have Daron back, and they will never un­der­stand why it hap­pened.

“With sui­cide, there is no legacy,” ex­plains Stephanie. “It is so com­pli­cated, so emo­tional, so full of ‘if only’ and re­grets,” she says. “Ev­ery story I hear about some­one los­ing their child to sui­cide is shat­ter­ing – it is just an end­less jour­ney.”

De­spite the fact that the Richard­sons never planned to be on this ter­ri­ble jour­ney, they in­tend to stick with it un­til youth get the help and sup­port that they need. In Canada, only 1 out of 5 chil­dren re­quir­ing men­tal health ser­vices cur­rently re­ceives them. “We have a lot of work to do as a so­ci­ety,” says Stephanie.

Echo­ing her friend, Kris McGinn of­fers her thoughts on the jour­ney for­ward. “I would like to see schools dis­cussing men­tal health with younger chil­dren as part of the health cur­ricu­lum,” she con­cludes. “I would like to see the day when we are all willing to talk openly about men­tal ill­ness with­out stigma, guilt or shame.”

Per­haps that will be Daron Richard­son’s legacy af­ter all.

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