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our story

August 31st, 2004 was the worst day of our lives --- it was the day we lost our older sister, Brianne to suicide. Brianne was only 19 years old at the time of her passing and should have had many years left to discover what life had to offer. Unfortunately, Brianne spent much of her teen years suffering from major depressive disorder. As a family, we knew she had struggled, we had worked to get her the help she needed, but we were not aware that Bree felt pain so deeply that she thought that life was no longer worth living.

Very few people knew of Brianne’s suffering and diagnosis of depression as she came across as a very happy and upbeat person. The day we lost our older sister we experienced too many emotions to list, but one of the most overwhelming emotions was shock and disbelief. How could this have happened to our older sister and our family? We couldn’t believe that our talented, amazing, intelligent, and beautiful big sister was gone. Our family did not get the chance to say good bye and we were left completely heartbroken.  

Brianne was unable to speak out and get the treatment that she so desperately needed due to close-minded thinking and stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. If only we could go back in time and change the way people viewed mental illness – maybe she would still be with us today.

Our family was left to pick up the many broken pieces following Brianne’s suicide. We became suicide survivors at the young ages of thirteen and five. Losing a sibling at such a young age, any age, is something that no one should have to go through. We looked up to our older sister, Brianne in so many ways. She was a role model to us and many who knew her.  The thought of losing Brianne to suicide was not even something that had crossed our minds prior to August 31st and yet here we were – headed down a long, painful road of grief.

Everyone grieves differently, but a lot of our healing came by publicly sharing our story and spreading awareness. We decided that bringing something positive out of something so terrible might be able to bring peace, healing and make a difference in others lives by reducing the stigma surround mental illness and suicide. In 2006 at the age of 15, we began speaking publicly at high schools throughout Saskatchewan sharing our story and the message that life is worth living. At the age of 21 life took us in different directions and the presentations were put on hold. Fast forward five years to 2017 - we began speaking publicly once again, this time with our youngest sister, Shalyn, with hopes that sharing our story and spreading awareness will help reduce suicide rates in Canada. In addition to our presentations, LIWL Apparel was created – a clothing line which will help start conversations about mental illness and suicide and hopefully turn them into everyday topics.

It is never easy to relive that day and share our story, but it is worth sharing if we can prevent at least one other family from enduring the grief and missing out on moments with their loved one like we have since losing our older sister, Brianne to suicide 13 years ago.