Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council is installing a bench and planting a tree at Gravenhurst’s Kinsmen Park. 

This will be the sixth bench installed and tree planted. The others are in Barrie’s Heritage Park, the Midland Bay Landing Park, Peacekeepers Park in Angus, the OPP’s General Headquarters in Orillia and Warden’s Park in Alliston.

“The idea was to bring awareness to the community for suicide and offer support and resources for people that either have thoughts of suicide or are survivors,” Member of the Simcoe County Suicide Awareness Council Lee Matthieu tells the MyMuskokaNow.com newsroom. 

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in the country with an average of 10 people taking their life every day. Of the approximately4,000 people that commit suicide every year, 90-percent were living with a mental health problem or illness, according to the agency. 

The council has been around for nearly three decades, but recently Matthieu says they have started branching out to other communities. When discussing potential landing spots, Gravenhurst was brought up being of how highly populated it is. 

Mayor Paul Kelly says the council reached out to town staff a few weeks ago to figure out a plan of action. “It really is timely,” he says. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a lot of new challenges to people and many people are dealing with mental health issues. “Everyone from young to old,” Kelly adds, pointing out how this pandemic has been piled on top of the stresses most people were already dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Kelly hopes that people take the opportunity to sit on the bench and remember a loved one they lost to suicide or take the time to reflect on what they’re dealing with.

Matthieu says that’s the point of the bench. It’s supposed to be used as an opportunity to sit and reflect. “The tree offers growth,” she continues.

Kelly says he’s glad Gravenhurst was chosen as the place for this safe space to be installed.

The bench will be installed and a tree will be planted on Friday, September 10th at 1300 Muskoka Road South for World Suicide Awareness Day. 

If you are in a crisis the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends calling the 24/7 Canadian suicide prevention service at 1-833-456-4566, call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, or reach out and talk to someone you trust.