As the sun dropped below the hills and mountains surrounding Shuswap Lake, people were surrounded by quiet beauty as they walked down the wharf at Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm.
Some people walked in silence, some shed tears, others talked amicably.
The prevailing theme was suicide prevention, as the Walk the Wharf on Sept. 10 was held to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
Usually the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) of the Shuswap-Revelstoke region and the Safer from Suicide Action Team puts on a Lantern Walk at McGuire Lake, but the coronavirus pandemic meant measures needed to be taken to ensure social distancing.
This year there was no music or speeches, but there was the support of community, as lanterns with tiny lights inside lined the wharf, a reminder of those who have died and of support for their families and friends.
‘Lampshades’ were also placed along the wharf, each with a message of encouragement such as “Together in hope and healing.”
“We decided that we would like to address, even in a small way, isolation, uncertainty, rising unemployment and financial strain,” wrote Shannon Hecker, manager of wellness programs & innovation with CMHA, when she requested use of the wharf from Salmon Arm council.
She had encouraged people to take a walk with their loved ones to show the community a way of combating isolation and creating connection.
Hecker noted people may feel particularly vulnerable during the pandemic, so resources were available at the walk and will be during the weeks and months afterward.
Overall, she said the purpose of the walk was “to raise awareness around suicide prevention and life promotion. To show up for each other in hope, help and healing in difficult times.”
More information is available about suicide prevention on the CMHA website at this link.
To reach the local CMHA branch, call 250-832-8477 or go to www.shuswap-revelstoke.cmha.bc.ca.