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One Year After Amanda's Death, Light Up Purple for Mental Health

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I started this blog post on October 1 and then left it. Now when I look again at the date, I see October 8. We are only two days from October 10, and the time is quickly moving toward this date which is becoming bittersweet for myself.

I never thought a whole year would come and go so quickly. Each and every month for the past 11, has been one full of the emotional ups and downs and even sideways for that matter. There is no way to predict which way the wind or my emotions will be blowing. I have a Snowflake Army that helps me as the days in each month get closer to the 10th. I know that I am the most fragile and sad right before and after that ominous number. Funny enough, the #10 was always Amanda's brother's favourite number. Would she have been thinking of that? I don't think so. Nor do I believe that she knew the significance of October 10 being World Mental Health Day. Amanda 'gaining her wings' on October 10 is just a mere coincidence with the number and the dates.

I have had many moments recently to reflect on the loss of Amanda who was not only a daughter, but a sister, a niece, a beautiful young woman who many looked up to and admired for the skills and talent and compassion that at the same time, others overlooked and made fun of.

For much of this past year, there has been much conversation about bullying and cyberbullying as well as mental health and suicide -- not just in Canada but around the world. In a recent online conversation with someone, I talked about those such topics and wondered if things had changed? If there was either a decrease or increase in bullying or mental health? And if there was an increase, was it because there were more kids involved with risky behaviours or were they just being reported more often (but supports hadn't increased)?

We wondered about what was happening in the 'big picture' of our nation. Or per province. Or even per city. Mixed messages about what can be done and what is being done appear to exist. Why one city can get a by-law, yet another one can't. Why one has the support of the RCMP and another one runs into problems. Those are all unanswered questions.

How many kids continue to be lost due to bullying and/or mental health issues? Who do we as parents or our kids go to for help? Waiting lists are a danger and can't be happening.

Tonight, I attended a parent presentation that was given by my good friend Jesse Miller (Mediated Reality). It was a session to engage parents on how to be more proactive in the area of social media so they could learn more about what is going on in the lives of their children in this area. Parents these days will never catch up. Because as they do and try, technology once again advances and leaves us older folks in the big dust storm.

I wonder how many people know that October 10 is World Mental Health Day all over the world? It was established by the World Federation of Mental Health in 1992. This also happens to be the same date that I lost the ability to laugh and cry with my daughter in real time. From here on in, I will work to bring awareness to mental health issues on this date. I invite all those who want to help do this each year by Lighting Up Purple for World Mental Health Day.

What started as a small idea has grown into a bigger plan. I was in Niagara Falls in August and a lovely teenage boy who joined one of the Amanda Legacy FB groups had wanted to light up Niagara Falls for me when I went to visit it. Time was too short and it didn't get done. But we sparked a plan to try and get it it for October 10. In the first two weeks, the Snowflake Army put out letters and applications. Response back was very slow. But then they started to trickle in. One place led to another. In order for Niagara Falls to light up purple for mental health, they needed a letter of support from the WHO or WFMH. We got a letter from the latter. With their support, we were able to get many more places including LAX Airport, Boston Bridge, Melbourne Australia, Toronto, Ontario, Calgary, Alberta, Vancouver, B.C. plus many more. In addition, there are lists of learning places, people and businesses who will be wearing purple or doing something purple. This makes me happy. That something is being done and that others will recognize how important talking and knowing more about mental health issues are.

So take this as an invitation -- The Amanda Todd Legacy Society invites you to participate in 'Light Up the World Purple on October 10th for World Mental Health Day'. Think out of the box and plan something to promote positive emotional health. We all want to live in a world whereby those who need supports will get them in the form of talking, laughter, a shoulder, a hug or whatever it takes. The lesson learned is support people... don't laugh at them!

Many have asked me "why purple?" I usually answer, "why not purple?" It is my favourite colour. It was Amanda's favourite colour. It is lots of peoples favourite colour. It is the colour of royalty. Of an eggplant. Of grapes. The list goes on.

We use pink as the colour of bullying in parts of Canada. It is currently anti-bullying month in the United States and their colour is blue. If you mix the blue and pink together, you will get a shade of purple. That is one of the reasons why those colours are part of the design for Amanda's snowflake. Purple is the colour in the middle and maybe the one that can bring all the countries working on the same solutions at the same time.

I was going to write about a blog post that was written by a local artist named Kathleen Tennant that was so heartfelt, emotional and raw. Kathleen had told me about this last week when I saw her but I didn't expect to read what I read. Get your tissues out when you read it. I will write my reflective thoughts tomorrow night.

For now, make sure to share the message about Light Up Purple for October 10. Take a picture of yourself and/or your activity. Post it on Twitter -- #lightuppurple. Or post on the Facebook event page.



Amanda Todd
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