Landmarks to Light up Purple for World Mental Health Day

More than 40 landmarks across Canada will be lit up with purple lights across on Oct. 10, World Mental Health Day, including a few in the Tri-Cities.

And Carol Todd would like to see many more.

The Port Coquitlam teacher, whose daughter committed suicide in 2012, is hoping everyone wears purple or puts up purple lights as part of the Light Up Purple 2014 campaign to spark a conversation on mental health and the need for awareness, support and resources.

“World Mental Health Day has been around since 1992 and occurs on the same date each year. This was also the same date that my daughter Amanda passed away,” Todd states in a letter to supporters. “The awareness related to bullying and mental health is a worldwide campaign that is neverending but also needs so much advocating and awareness about. There are many people, both young and old, who are suffering the effects of depression and other effects of mental health. We want to decrease the potential for tragic stories.”

Todd’s daughters’ death sparked international outrage against bullies and cyberstalkers, and a suspect was arrested and charged the Netherlands in April. Coquitlam RCMP have also pressed charges.

In the intervening months, Todd started the Amanda Todd Legacy Society, which started the Light Up the World Purple campaign and is also raising funds for youth mental health programs.

LESS SILENCE AROUND SUICIDE

Todd hopes that by encouraging groups to decorate in the colour purple on Oct. 10, more people will begin to talk about issues around mental health and suicide.

“Mental health is, of course, a topic of conversation that no one really ever wants to talk about. And of course, the media stays clear of deaths related to mental illness. Subsequently, the statistics are something that people aren’t aware of,” Todd said.

Among the Tri-City landmarks expected to be illuminated by purple lights on Oct. 10 are the fountain at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam and the Port Coquitlam recreation centre. Other Canadian landmarks include, in Ontraio, Niagara Falls, the CN Tower, the Peace Bridge from Niagara Region to Buffalo, N.Y.; in B.C., BC Place and Science World; and south of the border, the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier in L.A. and pylons at LAX.

The campaign is not just about decorating inanimate objects in coloured lights; individuals are also encouraged to wear purple clothing and make and wear purple ribbons.

Light up Purple is also being promoted on social media, with people encouraged to Tweet their purple photos with the hashtag #lightuppurple or email them to amandatoddlegacy@gmail.com.

A website has also been established listing participants, supporters, including several local businesses, photos, articles and mental health resources. It’s available at www.lightuppurple2014.weebly.com.

by Diane Strandberg – The Tri-City News

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