By Sydney Clay
Sept. 16, 2015
Bailie Perry met her soon-to-be best friend Matthew Murphy in Grade 1. They lived near each other and went on the same bus.
Throughout junior high school they were in the same classes and they started to grow closer as friends. By high school they were inseparable.
Then, in October, 2014, she lost her best friend to suicide.
“Losing him was the worst possible thing I could ever go through in life. He was my best friend, my rock,” Perry said.
She now suffers from depression and high anxiety. This has taken a toll on her life and she understands now how people who have or have suffered a mental illness feel, she said.
“Every day there is a new challenge and struggle that you have to get though, but I continue to do everything and go on with my life for him.”
People who suffer from mental illness should keep pushing through, Perry said.
“You are here for a reason and that reason will shine through eventually so keep going.”
World Suicide Prevention Day was held on Sept. 10 across the world. Started in 2003, it’s a day when people can spread awareness about mental illnesses.
June Harper is a Holland College counselor. It is important to make people aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, she said.
“The high risk ages are between 18-24, which is where a majority of the Holland College students fall, so making people aware of the signs and symptoms could help them spot the symptoms in friends, or relatives or even people in the community.”
Harper handed out candles to students as part of the awareness day’s light a candle near a window campaign.
“At 8 p.m. people can light a candle near a window to show support and to remember for the families who have lost someone and for the survivors,”
Harper has been affected by suicide, losing a friend. As a counselor it is important to educate people about mental illnesses, she said.
“It is important to try and stop the stigma with students at Holland College, and we hope students will search for help whether it be from the counseling centre or the Holland College Student Union,” she said.
Cassie MacDonald said it is important for people to find help when suffering from mental illnesses.
MacDonald has coped with depression since junior high. Over the years, she has lost a few friends to suicide and talked others out of it.
“It’s hard seeing both sides of mental illnesses, with almost committing and knowing the aftermath of what comes after someone commits, I don’t want to see anyone else go through that.”
Things for MacDonald have started to turn around with the support from her best friend. It helped when her grandparents moved to the Island.
“It’s nice having my grandparents be only an hour away instead of a plane away. And with my best friend being there for me and being my rock, things have started getting better.”
MacDonald hopes one day people will stop looking at mental illnesses so lightly.
Mental illness is not a joke and people should start taking it seriously, she said.
“It is hard for people suffering from mental illnesses to find help or go talk to people. I hope people will notice this and try to help a friend or family member who is suffering.”