Mental health issues are seemingly more prevalent in our society than they ever have been.

Whether people are just more comfortable with discussing their once silent issues, or societal pressures have heightened over the years, one thing is clear: our community members need more resources to help them battle their mental health woes.

Grimshaw woman Casey Szmata acknowledged the dire need in her community after losing her daughter to suicide. She explains she had to go all the way to Grande Prairie to seek help and realized how important a centre would be here to help people talk through their problems and their grief.

“We’ve had Reason to Smile Group here for quite some time, but I figured it was time to open a centre here,” says Szmata.

“It made sense to approach the Resource Centre for Suicide Prevention in Grande Prairie to see if they’d like to open a centre in our region,” she adds. “I contacted them in August, and they got behind the idea right away.”

Szmata says the Resource Centre had been hoping to open a centre in the Peace Region for quite some time but had no one to help open a facility.

“The people in that centre are so caring and compassionate,” she says. “They offer so many programs that can help people overcome many obstacles.”

The Resource Centre in Grimshaw will be opening on May 1, and will be located at the old Grimshaw town office.

“We will be offering Bereavement for Suicide Survivors and Skills for Safer Living courses as soon as we open the centre,” explains Szmata, adding they are hoping to add more sessions as the months progress.

“It’s hard to get people to come to bereavement sessions at first, I know what the hesitation is like. But it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that talking with other people can help.”

Skills for Safer Living is a four-week group program for youth who have suicide ideation and their caregivers. It works with children and youth between the ages of 12-24.

The Mission of the Resource Centre for Suicide Prevention is to raise awareness and create conversations surrounding suicide and mental well-being, acknowledging that talking about suicide is lifesaving. To foster hope and resiliency by providing individuals families, and agencies with knowledge and resources to support living well. To empower our community by facilitating skill building, safe communication, and promoting the value of self-care.

Szmata also says they will bring in Grande Prairie staff to hold a Tough Enough To Talk About It session, a men’s talk group to help them shed their concerns. She anticipates there will be substantial growth within the centre quickly, as there are many people in the region who are currently waiting for assistance.

“We don’t have a lot of resources up here, but we do have a couple of social workers who have teamed up with us,” she says.

“If there’s someone who can’t afford counselling, Avenge has offered to help cover some expenses.”

Szmata says Avenge will be holding a Black-Tie event on May 7, and they’ve chosen to focus on helping mental health programs in the region with their funds raised. This year, the Resource Centre will be one of the lucky recipients of the assistance.

She also adds Mercer Peace River is doing a raffle for them during its shut down later this spring.

“I hope to see our centre help bring down the suicide numbers in the region,” she says.

“I hope the centre is always busy with someone coming to get help or just coming it to say hi and to see what we offer,” she adds.

A grand opening will be held June 6 with more information to come in upcoming weeks.

For more information please see the Resource Centre for Suicide Prevention’s website at

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 01, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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