Human chain sheds light on mental health

Event organizer says gov’t must improve services for all ages

A Saanich woman hopes to encourage government to close the gaps in mental health-care with a symbolic initiative.

Jean Oliver is organizing a human chain, which she hopes will run from the Royal Jubilee Hospital, down Fort Street and all the way to the B.C. legislature to bring to light missing elements in suicide prevention.

“It’s a problem that’s been a bit under the radar,” Oliver said. “The human chain, I thought, would be a way for people who are shy or ashamed to talk about their experiences to not feel so alone and to come forward.”

Oliver hopes to see the federal government step up and provide a national strategy for suicide prevention. She also believes psychotherapy should be covered by pharmacare.

In addition, in Greater Victoria, there is no clear destination for 17-year-olds to receive emergency psychiatric care. Victoria General Hospital provides such care for teens age 16 and younger and the Royal Jubilee’s Eric Martin Pavillion prefers to treat adults only.

For the human chain event, which happens Sept. 10, Oliver hopes to amass 1,200 volunteers – “that’s one person every five feet” – to hold hands along the stretch. So far, 200 people have registered.

If the line isn’t complete, the group will walk to the legislature from RJH.

Participants are asked to meet at RJH, next to Fort Street, at 10:30 a.m. wearing a plain shirt of any colour.

There will be a petition signing and ceremony of commemoration for those who have died as a result of suicide, at the B.C. legislature from noon to 12:30. Victoria MP Denise Savoie will speak at the ceremony.

For more information or to sign up, email bcdots@gmail.com or visit dotsbc.com.

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