Healthcare community bands together to bring bigger Suicide Prevention Week to Windsor-Essex

The second annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Week starts Sept. 10. The Canadian Mental Health Association branch in Windsor and Essex County has partnered again with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to bring several events to the area.

'I was seconds from no longer being here'

(Stacey Janzer/CBC)

A woman who once tried to take her own life is sharing her story of hope and recovery through song in an effort to ensure those struggling with depression know help is out there.

Ashley Vodarek works with the Canadian Mental Health Association, but started her time there as a client after she attempted suicide when she was 25.

Leanna Roy sings "I'm Here", the song written by Ashely Vodarek, inspired by her story of her suicide attempt. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

This year she wrote a song called I'm here. She performed it Thursday at an event announcing the region's second annual Suicide Prevention week, which will take place from Sept. 10 to 16.

"The thing about the song for me and my suicide attempt — I was seconds from no longer being here, so I took a step down from what I was about to do and called out for help," said Vodarek.

Music has helped her cope with her depression. Listening to happy or even sad songs made her feel like she wasn't alone, she explained.

"I want someone to hear this song and have their heart swell and think: 'You know what? Somebody understands what I'm going through and maybe I should take that step and ask for help,'" Vodarek said.

The music lover said she hopes people who hear her song will better understand how they could save someone's life, just by being there for someone in those critical moments.

CMHA has Suicide Prevention Week cards with numbers to reach out to for those thinking about committing suicide. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Kim Willis, the Director of Communications at CHMA, said many groups have come forward offering to help with suicide prevention.

Last year, the organization was expecting about 200 people to take part in their five-kilometre walk, but staff were stunned when more than 400 participants showed up.

The CHMA is hoping to spread their message even more in order to get more people to participate.

Cainerfest — a concert and fundraiser created in the name of Jordan "Cainer" Caine who took his own life in 2014 — is one of the new events added this year.

Sept. 10 there will be a 5K walk at the Sportsplex at St. Clair College to start off Suicide Prevent Awareness week. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"That's been popular and has been extremely successful," Willis said.

There will also be a panel at Walkerville Collegiate Institute based on the popular Netflix show 13 Reasons Why called 13 Reasons Why Not.

CMHA's website also offers tool kits for work places or schools so they can also do preventative work on their own.

Willis said two people contacted their office after the first suicide prevention week and expects there were many others who got the message.

Feeling distressed, depressed or suicidal? Help is available.  1) Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare operates a 24-hour crisis line: (519) 973-4435. For more information on the warning signs of suicide, visit their website. 2) The Distress Centre of Windsor and Essex County is open from noon to midnight 365 days a year and provides emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Contact them at 519-256-5000.