‘One child is too many’: Cape Breton parents plan public meeting to address rash of suicides
Some parents in Cape Breton are taking matters into their own hands, hoping a gathering Monday in North Sydney will lead to solutions to a recent string of teen suicides and bullying.
"We have to fix it one way or another,” says meeting co-organizer Joe Townsend. “It's going to take more than one person to do so, so I'm hoping this meeting brings everybody together with the same goal in mind."
Local MLA Eddie Orrell is also helping to organize the meeting. Police, health care professionals and representatives from various levels of government are expected to attend.
"I think they're going to get a lot of information on what signs and symptoms to look for, what changes may have happened in your child's behaviour that were different over the last little while, how to monitor their social media, their telephones," Orrell says.
Shaelene Lafosse says she’s attending the meeting because a recent suicide by a 13-year-old Cape Breton girl hit too close to home. Her own granddaughter, roughly the same age, has been bullied at school recently.
"Fear. Fear and anger. One child is one too many to lose," Lafosse says.
The meeting will be held at the North Sydney Firefighters' Club. While a wide range of people are invited, organizers are really hoping to have youth suicide and mental health expert Dr. Stan Kutcher attend.
He is expected to visit the island the very same day.
"I'd love to have him there to hear what's going on,” says Orrell. “Make sure we're on the right track, too. If he could show up at that meeting that would be fabulous for us and the community, but it would also be the best thing to happen for our kids."
School board officials are also being invited, although the group acknowledges that schools can't solve the problems alone. The group says long-term commitments need to be made to prevent further tragedy.
"I don't think there's enough help out there for the kids,” says Lafosse. “Everybody is all, 'Let's do this, let's do this,' but it has to be a constant."
The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.