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Nov 9, 2023
It’s Movember and at CMHA Waterloo Wellington, we are recognizing the incredible Debney Family.
Movember looks at mental health through a male lens, focusing on prevention, early intervention, and health promotion. This annual event aims to normalize conversations about mental health issues and reduce the stigma that often prevents men from seeking help. This is exactly what the Debney family has been doing for the past ten years. This story contains mention of suicide, please take care as you read the Debney’s story. If you or someone you care about is in crisis or needs mental health support, do not hesitate to reach out to Here 24/7 – 1-844-437-3247 (HERE247), www.here247.ca.
My name is Ken and this is my story.
I do not have depression or mental illness but have suffered more than many from it.
You see at 54 happy, successful content with a great family, a wife and grown son and daughter, the rest of my life would be defined by a single phone call on August 21, 2014 10:15 PM.
An officer on the other end of that call would confirm my worst nightmare with simple one-word answer to a simple question, “Is he gone?” …” yes”
My son lost his battle with depression, but we fight on, he matters and his story is not over, not as long as I live.
You see I strongly believe it is not depression or mental illness that takes our loved ones, it is the stigma that prevents them from seeking help, from reaching out.
My battle is against the stigma, my son hid his ailment from his friends from us, and no one should suffer any illness is shame.
In public he laughed, played road hockey, volunteered in the community and had a circle of friends that would impress most of those reading this.
In private he suffered in anguish.
In his memory I will fight the stigma, through articles I have had published, through motivational talks, through Facebook and by reaching out to others to let them know there is no shame in being ill, by listening, showing the same compassion I do to those who suffer from cancer.
For those of us left behind, we need to band together and fight the stigma, so those who endure have hope.
The thing is with stigmas, they are in our control, they don’t exist if we don’t let them, but it is a collective effort, the more that fight them the fewer perpetrate them and like other stigmas before them (racism, discrimination, bullying) there is a tipping point where acceptance eclipses the intolerance
The Semi Colon Project is one tool in this fight.
I had planned to get an elaborate memorial tattoo, one I designed myself, and honoured his passions
Then I saw the Semi Colon Project and I read the original post by Amy Bleuel, and was moved by the simple idea it represented. The story Is not over, it did not end on August 21
The semi colon I have tattooed on my wrist is a tribute to him, a reminder that his story is not over and he still matters.
And it is an invitation to start conversations, and talk as openly about depression and suicide as I do about cancer, or sports for that matter.
For ten years, the Debney family has been on a mission to raise awareness about suicide as well as much needed resources to help those who are struggling. They have raised an incredible $103,679!! We are so grateful to the Debney family for sharing their story, opening up conversations and raising much needed funds for mental health!
Looking for more resources? Visit:
Movember – Men’s Health – Mental Health & Suicide Prevention