Do It For Daron campaign paints Ottawa purple, gets people talking
Residents across the city wore purple Tuesday to remember Daron Richardson and to encourage parents and children to have discussions about youth mental health.
Daron took her own life in November. Her family decided to go public with her story in hopes of preventing others from ending their lives.
On average, 10 people in Canada die by suicide every day. It's the second-leading cause of death in teens; and the leading cause of death for men aged 20-29 and 40-44; and in women aged 30-34.
Although the statistics are alarming, Daron's family and friends hope to change that.
Daron would have celebrated her 15th birthday on Tuesday. To honour her and to spread awareness, her family has declared Feb. 8 ‘Do It For Daron Purple Pledge Day.'
It's hoped the movement will help bring youth mental health to the forefront, and make teens aware that help is available.
"Daron inspired people everyday of her life," said Erin Sauve, one of Daron's closest friends.
"We need to put this into action and we can't just let this happen again."
Daron's parents, Luke and Stephanie Richardson, went to Parliament Hill on Tuesday to get politicians involved with their campaign to get people talking about mental health.
Richardson, an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators and a former NHL player, spoke to the media about his daughter's death for the first time last week.
He said their family discussed a lot of issues, but never mental health.
"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," said Richardson.
"We pray and hope that you have that conversation yourself, or with a friend or family member."
Students at South Carleton High School in Ottawa know having that conversation is important. They lost a classmate to suicide in September.
"I find everyone is nicer now. Not everyone is like: ‘Oh my God, look at him; oh my God, look at her.' We're more understanding. Our school has been hit hard with it," student Alyssa Spencer told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday.
There are lots of support systems available to youth facing mental illness. Daron's friend Reid Murphy says he hopes the Do It For Daron campaign will help get people talking about the issue.
"It's just support; support for people suffering from mental illness. It's going to spark conversations," he said.
If you need help or know someone who does, the following services are available: