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Harmony for Healing in Peterborough raises awareness, funds for suicide prevention

Phillip Jolicoeur felt his mother was “front row” as he performed during the inaugural “Harmony for Healing Spirit in the Sky” concert in Peterborough, Ont., on Thursday evening.

His mother Karen Kelly died by suicide in November 2022, having fought depression most of her life, said her son.

Jolicoeur created the concert as a tribute to her and to help others battling mental health issues. Proceeds support the Canadian Mental Health Association’s local Assertive Outreach Suicide Program (ASOP), which assists people who have attempted suicide.

“Her favourite thing in the world was live music. I truly believe that’s what kept her alive for so many years,” he said.

Admittedly not a musician, Jolicoeur performed on a harmonica and sang Neil Young’s I Am a Child — rekindling Jolicoeur’s memories of his first live concert at age four in 1986 and seeing Young perform.

“Live music lived in our house ever since,” he said. “I felt it was fitting I get up there and do one song for her.”

Jolicoeur says he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support as he began to piece the concert together last June. Performing songs from the 1960s, the lineup at the Market Hall Performance Centre boasted artists such as The Weber Brothers, Melissa Payne, Nicholas Campbell, Austin Carson, Carling Campbell, Beth Anne Pelow, Tony Silvestri and Lindsay Barr and the artistry of Jason Wilkins Art and Creative Inc.

“To see it all come to life tonight is super exciting,” Jolicoeur said prior to the show. “Everybody that we asked just jumped on board — it was that easy. I wasn’t pulling teeth to get anybody. And we have a surplus of artists who want to jump on board.”

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Jolicoeur anticipates the event surpassed the $10,000 fundraising goal. His aim is to host the concert series for the next five years with each consecutive decade being the musical theme, culminating with a “best of” for the fifth year.

The ultimate goal is to raise $50,000 for the ASOP program.

“Without funding to support the workers who are helping to keep people alive, possibly we would be losing more people, like my mom,” Jolicoeur said. “So here we are bringing live music to life in honour of my mom and making it a norm to talk about suicide.

“So people can reach out and understand that people are suffering and the community is here with them.”

Tracy Graham, director of program and services with the CMHA’s Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge branch, says she was amazed by the concert’s energy and the community’s desire to unite to discuss suicide.

“The ability to have the conversation and create space to feel they can connect and talk about suicide is really important,” she said.

Graham says the ASOP program aims to help those who have attempted suicide and also provides supports to the individual’s family. Based out of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre and the Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, ASOP workers help establish a safety plan and connect individuals to longer-term services.

“The program supports individuals to find hope and reasons to live as they move forward from a suicide attempt,” she said

Jolicoeur hopes the concert series will leave a lasting impact in the community.

“I wanted to do something so I just didn’t let other people suffer like my mom did,” he said.

Corus Entertainment’s Global Peterborough, 101.5 The Wolf and 100.5 Fresh Radio were among sponsors for the event.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

For immediate mental health support, call 988. For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention at suicideprevention.ca.

Learn more about preventing suicide with these warning signs and tips on how to help.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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