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Sask. parents raising awareness for youth mental health after teenage son's death


A White City, Sask. family is raising awareness for youth mental health following their son’s death last month.

Lincoln West, 17, died June 15 in a single car collision outside of the town.

Parents Debbie and Rick remember their son as a loving, caring teenage boy, who had a passion for sports.

“He loved watching and playing sports,” his mother said. “Lincoln was a very empathetic kid. He had a great sense of humour.”

“He always said, ‘I just want to make people laugh,” Debbie added.

“[Lincoln] was very competitive,” Rick said with a chuckle. “Whenever he lost, the drive home was always about how bad the refs were.”

Debbie and Rick said Lincoln struggled with mental health but was reluctant to seek help.

“He was very afraid people would find out he was struggling and would get made fun of,” Debbie said. “So he would not get the help he needed.”

“It cost him his life.”

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among youth and young adults aged 15 to 34.

Rick believes he noticed some of the signs of struggle his son showed, including lots of time in bed and often not being himself in certain situations.

“I chalked it up to him resting after a long week,” Rick said. “He would get more upset when we asked what was making him upset.”

The father hopes his son’s story will spark change.

The family has started a GoFundMe for youth mental health services in Saskatchewan in Lincoln’s memory.

“Lincoln’s life mattered,” Rick said. “Any child that comes forward or life is saved because of the messaging is one life Lincoln has saved.”

Starting with a goal of just $5,000, the fund has already well surpassed that, raising over $40,000 in less than three weeks.

“We have to work to change the stigma,” Debbie said. “So kids know they’re safe and can seek the help they need.”

Rick believes change begins in schools and on sports teams. He also encouraged other parents to create a space where their children feel free to be open.

“If you see something out of the ordinary, have the conversation,” he reiterated. “We don’t want to see another child suffer in silence.”

“Without the support of the community, this would not be bearable at all,” Debbie said. “I can never acknowledge enough how much that means to us and how much it’s helped.”

Anyone wishing to contribute to the GoFundMe may do so here Top Stories

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