Mourners celebrate the short life of Daron Richardson
Mourners remembered 14-year-old Daron Richardson Wednesday as a girl who embraced life and had as much talent on the ice as she did as an actor on stage.
Thousands attended a memorial service at Scotiabank Place to celebrate Daron's life after she died by suicide over the weekend.
Daron, the daughter of Ottawa Senators assistant coach Luke Richardson, was rushed to hospital on Friday. She died of her injuries the next day.
Many wore hockey jerseys and adorned the colour purple to commemorate the young hockey player, who was remembered as someone who always made others smile.
"She embraced every moment and lived life to the fullest. She had a love for life," said Daron's godfather Michael Dagenais, who delivered her eulogy.
Daron's drama teacher at Ashbury College also remembered Daron as someone who had the kind of character that could make you proud.
"She was the one who wanted to make a difference," said Greg Simpson.
Daron's sudden death has left many searching for answers, including her friends who were unaware of her apparent distress.
"I wish I could have been there for you when you really needed someone," said Emily Groper, one of Daron's best friends.
Friend Erin Sauve said: We were "talking about being each other's bridesmaids; going to the Olympics."
Going public to spread awareness
Daron's family has taken the somewhat unusual move of going public with their daughter's death, in hopes of removing the stigma associated with suicide. They also hope to spread awareness in an effort to prevent others from taking their own lives.
"They've tried to take the road maybe less travelled and do something that others haven't done before them and try to raise the awareness of some of the issues that go along with teen suicide," said Ottawa Senators president Cyril Leeder.
The courage to share Daron's story has also helped other families talk openly about suicide and mental health.
Daron's organs were donated. Her family says they don't want people to remember her final act as taking her own life, but rather giving life to others.
The Ottawa Senators reorganized their schedule so they could attend the memorial, postponing their trip to Raleigh, N.C. where they will play the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
"From the time I first heard on Friday until now it's been very difficult," said general manager Bryan Murray, who watched Luke Richardson grow up in Shawville, Que.
"We don't always know what goes through the minds of young people and as much as we try to help sometimes, we're kind of left outside. There is no answer for this, I'm sure, and there will be a lot of questions over the next couple of years."
In lieu of flowers, Daron's family has asked donations be made to a new youth program at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. The program is designed to promote mental health awareness in schools and help identify youth who need help.
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 (Eastern Ontario): 1-877-377-7775 Email: email@example.com
- Ottawa Crisis Line: 1-866-996-0991
- Quebec Crisis Centre: 1-866-277-3553
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem