Lantern-bearing travellers make their way around the McGuire Lake for Salmon Arm’s World Suicide Prevention Day lantern walk on Sept. 10, 2019. (Black Press file photo)

Salmon Arm walk to raise awareness of suicide prevention will carry on

During pandemic, walk on Sept. 10 will move to Marine Park wharf and have no speeches or music

Raising awareness of suicide prevention in the Shuswap continues during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the past four years, the Safer from Suicide Action Team has done a Lantern Walk at McGuire Lake Park in Salmon Arm. Because of concerns about large gatherings and the need for social distancing, the team is innovating.

“We decided that we would like to address, even in a small way, isolation, uncertainty, rising unemployment and financial strain,” wrote Shannon Hecker, manger of wellness programs & innovation with the Canadian Mental Health Association, to Salmon Arm council.

She said the action team would like to line the walkway of the wharf at Marine Peace Park out to the pier with lanterns from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10.

Hecker said there will be no speeches or music this year, but people are encouraged to take a walk with their loved ones to show the community a way of combatting isolation and creating connection.

Read more: In photos/video: Salmon Arm residents shine a light on suicide prevention

Read more: ‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth strategy

She noted that suicide is a difficult topic “and people may feel particularly vulnerable during this time. Therefore, we will have resources available, a person for support while in the park and therapeutic support available via zoom for the days after.”

Everyone in the community is welcome, but will need to practice physical distancing.

Hecker sums up the purpose of the ‘Walk the Wharf.’

“To raise awareness around suicide prevention and life promotion. To show up for each other in hope, help and healing in difficult times.”

City staff told council they have been dealing with the organizer and have no problem with the plan. Council voted unanimously to support it.
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