Local mental health advocates have asked people to walk with the hope of ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex County has organized the Eighth Annual Suicide Awareness Community Walk on Sunday morning. Walks will be held in Windsor, Lakeshore, and Leamington.
The walk annually draws hundreds of people, many of whom have lost a loved one to suicide or are supporting someone struggling with mental illness.
"Suicide is a complex global issue," said CMHA Windsor-Essex CEO Sonja Grbevski. "Here in Windsor-Essex County, we join with our community partners to bring greater awareness to suicide, try to reduce the stigma, educate the community on how to be suicide alert helpers, and pave a path for a suicide-safer community."
According to the CMHA, 4,500 Canadians take their own life per year, or just over 12 per day. For those under 25, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
The issue has been a serious one in Windsor-Essex. Between 2012 and 2021, 770 residents have died by suicide, with a spike in 2021 that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program in Windsor begins at the St. Clair College Sportsplex at 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Scheduled speakers include Grbevski, St. Clair College President Patti France, Windsor Ward 3 Councillor Renaldo Agostino, and Eric Nadalin of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Walks are available in two-kilometre and five-kilometre lengths.
The Lakeshore walk will be a 5K at the Atlas Tube Recreation Centre’s Earth Walk Trail. In Leamington, the 5K walk will begin at St. Paul's Lutheran Church and end at Seacliff Park.
All three walks are free, open to the public, and pet-friendly.
Complete information on all three walks and how to register can be found on the CMHA's official website.