She sat beside me at a table in the corner of the Centurion Convention Centre last fall. I liked her purse. We were part of the sold-out crowd at Resilient & Ready: A Luncheon Conversation for Parents, hosted by Do It For Daron (D.I.F.D.) and The Royal Ottawa Hospital. She was a mom about my age and, as servers poured water and passed plates of salad, we chatted about our lives and our families, the way strangers do at these sorts of events. I told her a bit about my kids. She told me about her daughter. The words tripped out as we glanced at our programs, placed napkins on our laps and made small talk with the others sitting with us.
She told me her beloved, darling daughter, a university student, was suicidal. Wasn’t taking her meds, wasn’t going to class, wasn’t really talking to her doctor or her parents.
Mom told me – in words of her own that I have long forgotten – that she lived holding her breath.
She left early.
I think of her often.
Truth is, thousands of families in this city are dealing with the challenges of mental illness. Truth is, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. Truth is, the mom I met might be your neighbor or your child’s teacher or you. That’s why I’m supporting D.I.F.D.’s 2013 Power to the Purple Challenge. Happening through February 10, it’s an opportunity for us to show our support for youth mental health and to dispel the stigma that can be a barrier to getting help. This year, schools, businesses and people in the community are encouraged to raise awareness and funds in support of D.I.F.D. and youth mental health education at The Royal. For details, visit www.difd.com.