• James Armstrong

Raising funds for suicide prevention one kilometre at a time


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

The 2018 fundraising campaign for Le Tournant suicide prevention programs was announced on Thursday, May 24 with the support of Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois (right) and (back row, left to right) Director General Alexandra Laliberté, Administrative Council President June Dubé, Guy de Repentigny, Rolland Guillon, Gilles Dompierre and Marielle Dompierre. Front row (left to right): Julie Lapointe and Jean-Pierre Dugas.

Four cyclists will hit the pavement on Wednesday, July 11 in Valleyfield as they set out on a fundraising 2600-kilometre journey to St. John’s, Newfoundland. The cycling event was announced at a press conference held on Thursday, May 24 in the town as the first in a sequence of three fundraisers for Le Tournant, a regional crisis centre for suicide prevention. Cyclists Julie Lapointe, Rolland Guillon, Jean-Pierre Dugas, and Guy de Repentigny plan to complete the journey in 19 days including the ferry ride from the mainland to the island. Marielle and Gilles Dompierre will accompany them with their motorized recreational vehicle to provide support throughout the adventure.

Related events

A second cycling event, marking the 15th Annual International Suicide Prevention Day, involving the same cyclists, is planned for Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9. The cyclists will be following two 365-kilometre loops, a kilometre for each day of the year, one in Vaudreuil-Soulanges and the second in Haut-Saint-Laurent. The final fundraiser for the year is a cocktail-dinner evening hosted at the Domaine de la Templerie restaurant near Godmanchester. Tickets for that event will be available in the near future.

Supporting the cyclists

“This is a very inspiring event… preventing suicide one kilometre at a time,” said Soulanges MNA Lucie Charlebois. “It is important for me to support Le Tournant and this event,” said Charlebois emphasizing that if one person is saved from committing suicide it is worth the effort.

“I invite everyone to support these cyclists with donations – each donation is important,” she said promising a $1000 donation of her own to stimulate support for the initiative.

Le Tournant services

“Our goal is to raise $40,000 with the three events,” said Le Tournant General Director Alexandra Laliberté. She underlined the importance of the services provided by Le Tournant.

“These moments of emotional distress arrive without warning, regardless of social class, religion, male or female,” she added. For over 30 years, the organization has provided help, intervention and support for individuals in crisis, who suffer from mental and emotional distress.

“Without the women and men dedicated to the cause of preventing suicide, our work would not be possible,” she said. Laliberté described how Le Tournant provides a crisis hotline 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

“Yes, we have services in English including the crisis line,” she said.

The organization serves 243,000 people living in three counties including Municipalités régionale de comtés (MRC) Haut-Saint-Laurent, Beauharnois-Salaberry and Vaudreuil-Soulanges. According to the statistics presented by Laliberté, the crisis hotline receives over 7,000 calls per year and the organization provides 10,000 interventions in the same time frame.

Preventing suicide a common cause

“Many families have been touched by suicide,” said Charlebois as she described how her own extended family had been affected.

“We all deal with it differently,” she added pointing out that Le Tournant provides support for those bereaved by suicide. Cyclist and co-organizer of the cycling fundraiser Julie Lapointe was motivated to organize an event because of the support she received after her husband Daniel committed suicide.

“In an instant, my life switched from happiness to horror and each second became an eternity of suffering,” she said. “Someone from Le Tournant was able to help me before it was too late.” She said she was fortunate to have received individual follow-up, group grief counselling and that the telephone help line was always available.

Public awareness

Lapointe also emphasized how important it is to be aware of the services Le Tournant provides.

“In my circle of friends, not one knew anything about Le Tournant, not one,” she said suggesting it would be helpful if the police could be given information about Le Tournant to provide when called to a crisis situation. Charlebois, who also serves as Ministre déléguée à la Réadaption, à la Protection de la jeunesse, à la Santé publique et aux Saines habitudes de vie, responded that it was a good idea and she would make the suggestion to the Ministre de la Sécurité publique Martin Coiteux. Proceeds from the fundraiser are used to develop much needed materials and workshops to promote the resource to various target audiences and raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Help is available

The toll free crisis help line number is 1-866-277-3553. Help is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. For further information about Le Tournant, consult their website at www.letournant.org.

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