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Chiefs, Lions, Team 55 launch suicide prevention program

by Ben Clarke

The Lakefield Fitzsimmons Towing and Repair Chiefs want you to know, whether you’re a hockey fan or not, you’re not alone.

The Chiefs announced at a press conference Monday that the team has partnered with Team 55 and the Lakefield Lions Club to present a new mental health initiative, safeTALK.

safeTALK is a training session that prepares anyone over the age of 15 to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources.

At the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) annual general meeting held in Niagara Falls back in June, the OHA presented a mental health initiative dealing with suicide amongst young adults, including the hockey family, called safeTALK.

The program was rolled out in Cambridge, Ont. by the Stratford Cullitons Jr. C team in October and now the Lakefield Chiefs will become the third team in the OHA to participate.

“The goal is to have every OHA team conduct a Safetalk,” says Chiefs General Manager Robert Campbell.

“It was not too long ago in our own league a young, very active and community-minded captain took his life.”

Little Britian Merchants captain Nolan Jewell passed suddenly in August 2012, and while his team has gone to great lengths to preserve his memory, they have also raised awareness of suicide and what can be done to prevent it.

“The Lakefield Fitzsimmons Towing and Repair Chiefs executive believed that this program would be very beneficial to the great young men on our hockey club and members in our community that a committee was formed to move forward with this worthwhile initiative,” says Campbell.

The Chiefs announced at Monday’s press conference, they will hold two safeTALK’s Feb. 1 in the Niels Pind Community Room located inside the Lakefield District Community Centre. The first session from 8 a.m. until noon will be for Chiefs players, while the second, scheduled for 12:30 until 4:30 p.m., will have an openings for 30 people. Other sessions will be added if there’s a high attendance.

“This team and this community mean a lot to me,” says Team 55 founder Dave Pogue.

“I had the opportunity to coach some of these boys. We decided as a group that the message has to get out that it’s okay to talk about mental health. We need to be better aware of the signs so we can ultimately prevent it.”

The safeTALK will be facilitated by Cecilla Marie Flynn, a mental health consultant who focuses on suicide prevention.

The cost is $25 for the talk, which normally costs $45. There’s still openings for the afternoon session and anyone interest can contact Robert Campbell at 705-292-6537.

“The Lakefield Lions have been around for 60-plus years,” says Lions Club sports convenor Kit Martin, who was on-hand for the announcement.

“Our motto is we serve and this is the perfect vehicle to get the word out in the community.”

For more information on mental health contact Kerri Davies of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Peterborough chapter at 705-748-6687 extension 1048.

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