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One Of Canada’s Top Hockey Players Joins The Fight Against Mental Illness
April 5, 2013
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One of Canada's top women hockey players has joined the fight against mental illness.

Tessa Bonhomme is taking part in PSA's for the Do It For Daron Foundation during the women's world hockey championships in Ottawa.

Daron was the daughter of former NHLer Luke Richardson. She committed suicide in 2010 at the age of 14.

The foundation supports programs to create awareness about mental illness, and help young people who are dealing with depression.

Bonhomme, who lost an aunt to suicide, said "When I heard (Daron's) story it really hit home. I had an aunt, Aunt Cathy, who suffered from mental illness."

"It was a hard thing to go through and a hard thing to live through and I knew the trials and tribulations that someone who is going through mental illness goes through.

"One thing (her aunt) said to me was if there is anything you can do with Team Canada if you ever make it, try to create awareness for it," she told CBC Sports.

Bonhomme's PSA ran on the jumbo screen at ScotiaBank Place during a break in Canada's victory over Switzerland on Wednesday.

"If you feel like something is wrong, talk to your parents, teacher, coach, doctor or friends," Bonhomme says in the video below.

"If a friend tells you that they're thinking of hurting themselves, take them seriously and get help. This is one secret you must not keep."

Do It For Daron is affiliated with the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health and is the official charity of the women's world hockey championships.

During Wednesday's game, the World Women's Hockey Twitter account sent out this tweet:

During games, the scoreboard flashes purple and sends a message that youth mental health is worth talking about.

There are 50-50 draws to raise money, and a portion of the ticket sales from a special purple section will go to the foundation.

Bonhomme, who's won Olympic gold with Canada, learned about the foundation when she was on CBC's 'Battle of the Blades', which she won with David Pelletier.

Each competitor on the show skated for a cause and former NHLer Bryan Berard chose Do It For Daron.

Daron's sister, Morgan Richardson, won a gold medal with Canada last year at the world under-18 women's hockey championship.

She's now a freshmen playing at Cornell University, and three of her teammates there are representing Canada at the world championships.

Richardon told the Canadian Press the event is an amazing way to reach people.

"It absolutely is groundbreaking," Richardson said. "I think that's the whole point... to erase that stigma around it. I think we still have a long way to go."

"I think everybody deals with things. It's one of those things that if you hurt your wrist, you'd ask for help and go to a doctor. When you're struggling internally, you should be able to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness."

As CP reports, it took Morgan two years to talk publicly about Daron and become a spokesperson for the foundation.

"I miss my sister very much. Nothing can bring her back," Morgan said.

"I think it's really good to focus on encouraging other people to ask for help. It's been a healing process for not just my family, but I think for a broader community as well to have something to encourage each other, support each other. It's OK to ask for help, OK to reach out."

As Morgan's mother Stephanie Richardson put it, "Speak up and say when you're not feeling well... You're too important to the rest of us to not."

One of Canada's greatest Olympians Clara Hughes has devoted a lot of time talking about mental health. You can see that interview below, along with clips from other guests who've battled mental illness.

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