Dressed in multiple shades of yellow, Charline McLean and Natalie Thibeau-Rector looked like happiness against Friday’s gloomy weather, but that was the whole point.

The duo from the Miramichi Addiction, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Committee spent the day driving around to local businesses for Day in Yellow — a campaign that asks people to wear yellow to support suicide awareness.

“Suicide prevention is a real difficult topic to talk about, so we wanted to add smiles. We wanted to go in looking bright, doing trivia questions to engage folks,” explained Charline McLean, a prevention coordinator with Miramichi Addictions & Mental Health Services.

“We didn’t want people to feel threatened,” she said.

The goal was to visit at least 20 businesses, more if the weather permitted it.

Not only were the two dressed in yellow, but they also had 80 pounds of smiley bananas to drop off, bright yellow smiley balloons and a lot of valuable information.

“I think it’s important to have the open conversations because there is a lot of stigma attached to mental health, mental illness and suicide prevention. I think that stigma, at times, discourages people from reaching out,” said McLean.

Towne Ford group with smiley bananas

“The more we talk about it, the more we encourage folks to reach out for help and be aware of what’s available out there.”

The businesses were not called ahead of time, so McLean and Thibeau-Rector were able to reach as many people that noticed them walk through the doors.

“Even if one more person feels safe to speak about suicide, we’ve made a difference,” said Natalie Thibeau-Rector, a regional resiliency coordinator with Miramichi Addiction, Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Committee.

“Suicide is so much more prevalent than people think. ‘Oh no, it doesn’t happen here,’ people say, but it does happen here.”

According to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, today in Canada 12 people will end their lives by suicide. Females are three times more likely than males to attempt to end their lives and males are three times more likely to die by suicide than females.

“We can’t stop anyone from having thoughts of suicide, but what we have the power to do is — we have the power to be aware of what the resources are and how to link those individuals to those resources,” said McLean.

Renaud's furniture suicide prevention

Bob Henderson was working today and he said he was excited when McLean and Thibeau-Rector walked into the store because it started an important conversation.

“I’ve had depression myself. I know what stigma is, and I was fortunate enough to have a loving family and a great work staff that stood behind me when I was sick,” he said.

“Anyone out there should know there’s lots of things out there, ways to get help, but you have to go and ask for it, but don’t be shy and don’t be embarrassed.”

Henderson said it wasn’t until he was personally impacted with depression in 2012 that he knew what resources were available.

“It’s great to see people out there going around spreading the news because when I had it, I was very scared, didn’t know what to do and just was fortunate enough to have the right help.”

“It’s all here,” he said. “I got my help in Miramichi.”

While Day in Yellow opens a door to approach the topic of suicide prevention, awareness is done year round.

“Suicide is not just a New Brunswick issue or a Canada issue,” said Thibeau-Rector.

“It is a worldwide issue, and if I can’t start in my backyard, where do I start?”

Smiley face bananas

On top of bananas and trivia questions, the duo also left a sheet of information and resources for businesses to put up in their break room so the information is accessible to everyone.

“I know it touched everyone in my family and all the people that work here,” Henderson said when reflecting on his own experience.

“People shouldn’t feel alone and that’s the scary part. You shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it or ask for help.”

The Miramichi Addiction, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Committee is hosting a free community SafeTALK on Saturday to continue to conversation in the community.

McLean says it will help share more resources and give community members the tools they need including how to ask direct questions and recognize signs.

However, on top of special events like Day in Yellow and SafeTALK, their social media is up-to-date with information and McLean says awareness is done 365 days a year because it has to be.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.