A few dozen people gathered at St. Alban’s Cathedral Tuesday to hold a candle-light vigil and prayer service for National Suicide Prevention Day.
The service, called from darkness to light, served as a way to gather together and also to remind people that there is hope.
“Suicide is a lie that convinces someone that they are alone and there is no help, that there is no one to walk with” Deacon David Butorac said during the service.
“Here we are tonight, walking together. Our presence here tonight together, even in pain and loss speaks truth to that lie.”
Butorac said that it’s true that there is darkness in the world.
‘The truth of human existence is that we need to reach out to cry out from the deep. This reaching out can be a scream into and against the darkness. It can be a gutting groaning prayer, and it can simply be to put your hand out an light a candle in the darkness when …. Our imaginations fail. All of these are prayers. We need help. We need a guiding light.”
The service included prayers, hymns and the lighting of vigil candles. One table was for those who have died by suicide. The other able was for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Butorac told those in attendance they can be the light that others seek.
“There is light in Jesus — nothing can overcome that light,” he said.
We and others are called to be that light for others in a dark world. Tonight, we are called to bring light to that darkness. When we leave here, it is so vitally important that you carry that light with you out into the world. Nothing can overcome that light. That is our hope.”
Before the vigil, Butorac spoke about why it was important to hold the vigil.
“Not a week goes by where I don’t meet a congregation member or another priest from up (north) where there is a new suicide,” he said.
“Suicide afflicts everyone. It does not discriminate First nation or settler, and it hurts. There are members of my congregation who have suffered through families and friends. There is nothing as precious as life. If there is anything we can do to stand together, (we can) maybe heal a bit and show a more positive path for people who are contemplating suicide.”
Butorac said that when someone loses a loved one to suicide “it’s like a firecracker goes off in your hand.
“You’re completely stunned, you’re completely numb. Words fail you. Sometimes, it’s tears. What we’re trying to do is offer a way with our bodies and eyes and ears to push back against that through the simple act of lighting a candle with other people, singing and song and sharing that grief with other people.”
Sheryl Kimbley, who is a member of the St. Alban’s faith community, was invited to speak at the service.
“I’m hoping to share a message of hope,” she said.
“Everybody needs to take it easy on themselves, especially those that have lost somebody to suicide. We need to realize as caregivers that it’s a tough world out there, and sometimes its’ more than parents that need to support that child.”
Kimbley said it’s important to note that everyone is fighting.
“We’ve got so many things that our young people an be influenced by, and so many struggles out there. It’s hard to imagine kids are doing okay, nevermind adults. We have to be mindful… as well as learn how to take care of ourselves.”
That’s why it’s important, Kimbley said, to share that message wherever you are that it’s okay to struggle, and that are people out there who can help and who want to listen.
“I think particularly as a church, we have to start opening the doors and letting people that drive by every day know that it can be more than just a place you pray on Sunday,” she said.
“We need to start opening dialogues and making people who are contemplating suicide, those who are left behind mourning somebody who has taken their lives, we have to let those people know that there are different ways you can use your church for counselling and for drop-in things where we can open up our church to young people.
“It’s important to start the dialogue everywhere you ago — workplaces, churches, our schools — we need to take away the shame that exists for everybody that is struck by this terrible thing happening to people all over.”
Butorac had a similar message, one of removing shame and having hope.
“Tonight is a message of hope,” he said.
‘The title is From Darkness to Light. We acknowledge the darkness. We all go through hard periods. For some people, it hits harder than others. For some people, the darkness overcomes them.
“We want to say that there is hope and there is healing for everyone.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, call 911 for immediate help.
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line Service is available in Cree, Ojibway, Inuktitut, English and French. Callers may ask about the availability of services in the language of their choice. 1-855-242-3310
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
(Canada) Crisis Services Canada – Suicide Prevention and Support – 24/7 1-833-456-4566
Prince Albert Mobile Crisis Unit – Mon – Fri 4 pm – 8 am, Sat – Sun 24 hours 306-764-1011
For first responders struggling, including corrections officers and hospital trauma personnel, OSI-CAN offers support groups. Contact Prince Albert: New Group contact Sherry @ 306-960-5644 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
PA-Original Group contact Michelle at 306-981-6083
Tisdale/Humboldt/Melfort/Nipawin: contact Chris at 306-873-7513
Prince Albert Catholic Family Services offers counselling, including a walk-in program.