A North Okanagan company has hosted a fundraising event in Armstrong to honour a co-worker recently lost to suicide.
Hytec-Kohler says Ryan Collins was 30 years old and struggled with anxiety and depression throughout much of his life.
“Ryan’s anxiety was so bad it held him back from living his life. He would focus on the “what if’s” and the extreme worry would paralyze him from doing things. He wasn’t able to sleep well because his mind would never shut off from the worry. He would constantly worry about things he had no control over,” says Ryan’s parents, Ricky & Theresa Evanoff. ‘We would be there to listen and comfort him but his anxiety only continued to get worse. He did not want to open up about what he was going through, he did not know how to explain it so he kept a lot inside. The stigma surrounding mental illness prevented Ryan from talking openly about what he was going through and getting the help he needed.”
Anxiety is the most common type of mental disorder affecting 12% of BC’s population, or one in eight people, in any given year.
His parents say Ryan was extremely generous and caring, and he was always there for you when you needed him.
“He believed in ‘paying it forward’, this is why we want to share Ryan’s story because things need to change. There needs to be more services for mental health in our community. Anxiety and depression are diseases, the same as addictions and cancer are recognized as diseases, anxiety is just as important and just as dangerous.”
The Evanoff’s say they hope by sharing Ryan’s story they can continue to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness that prevented him from getting help.
“If we don’t talk about mental illness and suicide nothing will change and things urgently need to change so that more families in our community are not faced with a similar devastating loss,” said Ricky and Theresa.
To honour Ryan’s memory, Hytec-Kohler, which makes kitchen and bath plumbing fixtures, hosted a fundraiser, raising over $2,000 for mental health. “We wanted to come together to remember Ryan and support his family during this difficult time and to bring awareness to the fact we need for more mental health services in our community, said Deborah Fox, Human Resources Manager at Hytec-Kohler.
About 4,000 Canadians die by suicide every year. The most at-risk group for suicide is men in their 40s and 50s. No matter the age the person or the circumstances surrounding their death, each life lost to suicide leaves a devastating impact on that person’s family, friends and community.
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. CMHA is hosting an evening of hope, health and healing at Polson Park from 7pm-8pm. We will come together as a community to acknowledge those we have lost and for those we carry hope forward. Free meditation will be offered from 6pm-7pm.
If you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be call the 24 hour crisis line: 1-888-353-2273 or 1-800-SUICIDE.
Pictured: Ryan Collins