My name is Doug Harris and like so many others, tragically, my 32-year-old daughter Kate died by suicide in late August of 2016. Kate was a wonderful and caring daughter, friend, sister and aunt who should have had so much living yet to do.
As her Dad, I was blind to her struggles with mental health. She would occasionally touch on it, but I had no idea what was lurking just below the surface. Admittedly, even if she had shared more with me, I'm not so sure I would have recognized the full extent of her pain. Outwardly, she was just too strong, happy and generous for me to understand her struggle.
I knew from the start that Kate's story could not end with her death. She was a special lady, and her death had to mean something! My hope is that by sharing Kate's story, others will live and prosper. That people suffering will reach out and ask for help, that those recipients entrusted with receiving such an ask will be understanding and help steer the person in an appropriate direction, that employers will be compassionate and non-judgmental and that health care providers will have the tools and talent to insure a positive outcome.
In honour of Kate, and to help assist those among us who are struggling with mental illness, I will be cycling 2,200 kilometers across Eastern Canada. I am planning on leaving London, Ontario (Kate's birthplace) on Thursday, May 30 - with an expected arrival in Halifax, NS (where Kate lived and died) on Sunday, June 23. With everyone's help, we can continue to work to breakdown the stigmas associated with mental illness and to get people not only talking, but also acting to make a positive difference!
Here in London Ontario, the good folks at St. Joseph's Health Care London have implemented a bold new model called the Zero Suicide Initiative. It's the first of its kind in Canada, and has already proven successful in the US and UK. The Zero Suicide Initiative's goal is to eliminate suicide within our health care system by redefining screening and transitions in mental health care to ensure that no one falls through gaps in their journey.
I have met several people from St. Joseph's and have found them to be honourable and committed to making a positive change in the community. St. Joseph's has already seen success with Phase 1 of their implementation, and is now expanding the model across the majority of their mental health care programs. With success of the Zero Suicide Initiative here in London, this system change could spread across the country and have a real impact!
Innovative projects like Zero Suicide aren't possible without our support. To donate or learn more about the Zero Suicide Initiative and other programs supported by St. Joseph's Health Care Foundation, please click on the below link which will lead directly to the fund raising page set up specifically for this event!
Furthermore, if you are aware of a worthy local group in your area that needs your support, I also welcome and encourage you to offer them your assistance in honour of Kate.
I thank you all for your interest and please feel free to stop by from time to time. As May 30th approaches, I will make regular updates on this page and during the ride, I will add a daily blog.
If anyone has a story they wish to share, or the memory of a loved one they would like to honour, please send me an email or share your story on our Facebook page!
Please note that all donations will be going directly to the designated charity. I am self-funding the trip.
Thanks to everyone for your interest and support!
Please Check out these links:
To make a donation directly to this initiative, simply click on the link and follow the page down to the end of our story. There you will find the donation form for your completion.
Please remember that all donations will be going directly to the Zero Suicide Initiative as we are self-funding the ride.
Thanks to you all!
Please join our Facebook group. All are welcome! This is the best place to be for regular updates and to view posts from our friends.
Doug Doesn't tweet but his wife will. He says she's a twit(terer)!
Check out my route and ride schedule as well as updates and news!!
I will be posting here regularly as I ride!