Sandra McArthur is raising awareness of suicide. Trevor Hewitt photo

Walk to raise awareness on suicide brings Sandra McArthur through Smithers

Sanda McArthur is taking steps to bridge the gap between communities and awareness on suicide.

Sandra McArthur is taking steps to bridge the gap between communities and awareness on suicide.

Literally.

On May 12 McArthur took her first step of the Community Compassion Walk, a just-over-1200km trek from Prince Rupert to Kamloops.

McArthur lost one of her sons to suicide, something she says has inspired her to try to raise awareness on the issue.

She adds that the journey, which will take her across much of B.C.’s North Coast and Central Interior, was started with the simple goal of creating dialogue.

“That’s where the answers come from, dialogue,” she said in an interview with The Interior News.

“When our son died … he had one card in his pocket and on that one card he had one name and one phone number and that was his champion that he could actually turn to when he needed help.”

McArthur said that from this came the idea of Community Champions, people that individuals experiencing mental health issues know that they can go to in the event of a crisis.

Holding a card which has space for someone to write their name, phone number and email on the back, she explains that for someone in a desperate situation, not having to memorize a number and being able to just pull out a card can be extremely helpful.

She adds that, on top of creating dialogue, the walk is done with the hope of helping to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide.

“How did our loved one get to that point where they felt that they were hopeless and if [they were] so hopeless then how do we help another person not feel this way?”

Discussing how she would like to see the conversation around mental health changed, McArthur brought up an interesting point about helplines for those experiencing mental health crises.

She said that while she fully supports the idea of them, she would like to see helplines consolidated into less numbers, giving the example of something similar to the star-69 last-call return function on phones.

Pointing to another card she hands out to people she meets, she notes that it has 11 different hotlines, all with slightly different-albeit-related functions.

On top of the resources she has been passing out to the communities she visits, McArthur also brought a number of buffalo pins with her, accompanied by the phrase “Into the Storm”. She explained that the animal has special significance — her late son had a tattoo of a buffallo skull on his head.

Her husband explained further, building off the notion that being a Community Champion is more than just being there for someone and using the example of buffallos, which are anecdotally known to run directly into storms as opposed to trying to circumvent them.

“I’m not just necessarily being sympathetic or empathetic, I also want to be there with you, I want to help you through the challenge,” he said.

McArthur’s walk is scheduled to bring her to Kamloops on June 21.

Just Posted

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

VIDEO and PHOTOS: Thursday at the Spirit of the North Classical Music Festival

A brass fanfare, Classics on Main and a family folk dance were among the events on Day 2 of the fest

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Telkwa angler praises DFO salmon closure

Don Lambie says further actions are required including a seal cull and managing beaver dams

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read