Daron Richardson's family hopes to help others
Ottawa Senators assistant coach Luke Richardson and his wife Stephanie arrive for an announcement on mental health in Ottawa, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. The Richardson's daughter Daron committed suicide last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa Senators Assistant Coach Luke Richardson spoke about the death of his daughter for the first time on Wednesday, in hopes of preventing others from taking their own lives.
Daron Richardson, 14, committed suicide in November. Her family chose to go public with her death in an effort to raise awareness about suicide and youth mental health.
"We lost a beautiful daughter and sister," said Richardson.
"We are a close family. We spend a lot of time together. We talk about a lot of things; sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying and the Internet. But there was one conversation we never had. Mental health. Suicide. We pray and hope that you have that conversation yourself, or with a friend or family member."
The Richardson family is getting counselling to help them cope with the tragedy. But part of their healing has come through sharing their story.
"At that very tragic time in November we made the decision to speak publically about suicide because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. We wanted to do what was best for Morgan (Daron's sister), for the three of us to understand, to remember Daron and move forward," said Richardson.
"Our own lack of knowledge has put us in this path of disbelief, sorrow and despair. It's filled with never-to-be answered questions and pain."
The family has now joined the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, the Ottawa Senators and the Sens Foundation to launch fundraising and awareness efforts to inspire youth to talk about mental health.
Daron's 15th birthday would have been celebrated on Feb. 8. That day has now been dubbed Do It For Daron Purple Pledge Day, when people will be asked to wear purple in support of the Daron Richardson Fund at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. Purple was Daron's favourite colour.
The Royal Ottawa Foundation hopes the movement will help youth address any problems they may be experiencing. The funds will go towards an early identification and intervention program for youth.
The Sens will also host their own Do It For Daron (D.I.F.D.) night each February to raise awareness about mental health and promote resources available in the community.
The first event will be held on Feb. 26 when the Sens face off against the Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Place.
The Richardsons have donated $100,000 towards the campaign. The Sens Foundation also plans to donate $100,000, bringing its support for youth mental health initiatives to $200,000.
Daron leaves behind her parents and her 16-year-old sister.
If you need help or know someone who does, the following services are available:
- Kids' Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
- Youth Services Bureau's 24/7 Crisis Line (Ottawa and eastern Ontario): 1-877-377-7775 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ottawa Crisis Line: 1-866-996-0991
- Quebec Crisis Centre: 1-866-277-3553
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr