All it took was some card-stock, markers and a whole lot of heart in a project one Vancouver woman hopes will make a life of difference for someone struggling with their mental health.
Mindi Reynolds is the mastermind behind dozens of positive messages and quotes strapped to the bars along the Lions Gate Bridge that popped up this month.
She, along with friend Mike Shaw and mother Isabella Mori, decided to pursue the project in line with World Suicide Prevention Day and a new day of awareness Reynolds is hoping will catch on called Your Life Matters Day.
On Sept. 8, the trio braved wet and soggy weather to Zap Strap the messages along the bridge, she told Black Press Media over the phone Tuesday night.
“They’re really just messages of hope and encouragement and just kind of things that I have had said to me and I have said to friends,” she said.
|Mike Shaw, Isabella Mori and Mindi Reynolds. (Contributed)|
By day, Reynolds is a legal assistant in the city. But like many she has been touched by mental illness, losing a friend to suicide 12 years ago while living in B.C.’s Interior.
“I thought about her a lot when I wrote these messages,” she said.
As she and many of her friends continue to grieve the loss to this day, Reynolds said she wanted to do something that shares messages of hope and encouragement for those who visit one of B.C.’s most iconic bridges.
“I read an article in late July about a young woman named Paige Hunter in the U.K who had done this herself on the Wearmouth Bridge in England,” Reynolds said, adding that more than 13 people have credited Hunter’s efforts on helping them see that life is worth living.
“I thought that was amazing, and it was such a simple thing that could be done.”
|One of the messages of encouragement along the Lions Gate Bridge. (Muna Kilani/Contributed)|
While Reynolds said she may never know how many lives the notes impact, Black Press Media found one person who felt grateful.
Muna Kilani had first noticed the notes while driving over the bridge. Just last week, during a walk with her husband, the pair decided to take a closer look.
Kilani, a former volunteer at The Crisis Centre in Vancouver, said she’s seen a few people “in need of urgent care at the bridge” over the last three years.
“We feel tremendous sense of concern towards members of our community that need support,” she said.
“Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility and those notes are a perfect example of compassionate and non-judgmental acts of care. It radiates hope as a stepping-stone towards help, and healing.”
Suicide prevention, mental health an everyday conversation
Reynolds said that while she plans to be back posting new messages along the bridge next year, conversations on mental health and wellness need to be happening every day.
“The biggest message more than anyone else is talk to your friends, talk to your family members. If someone is saying something that doesn’t feel right or out of character, talk to them, ask them for coffee, send them a note saying ‘I’m thinking about you’… Reach out to them. It’s really important for us not to ignore them.”
If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.
Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance abuse.