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Grant brings suicide prevention centre step closer to reality

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

After Teresa Ingles lost her son three years ago, she spent countless sleepless nights at her computer desk.

“I would get up and start researching grants, different ideas, statistics, and finding out what was missing in our community,” said the woman behind the Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention, established in memory of her son, who died by suicide at age 17.

She came up with the idea for an after-hours crisis drop-in centre, and, in November 2014, stood up at Sarnia City Hall to ask for money.

“We’ve come a long way since then,” she said.

She’s since launched the charity, established a board of directors, secured and renovated a space for the centre, and most recently, hired her first paid employee, thanks to a $30,000 United Way Venture Grant.

“This is huge for us, because I’ve been doing all of these roles pretty much by myself,” said Ingles, pointing to a new administrative assistant, who has taken a major workload off her hands.

“We can get twice as much work done, and that means we’re one step closer to being able to open our doors.”

The goal of the centre, known as Deker’s Place, is to provide a safe haven for anyone at risk of suicide, operating between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., Monday to Friday, and 24/7 on weekends and holidays.

“There is no other agency open during those hours, except for the hospital,” said Ingles, noting that she’s hoping the centre will alleviate wait times for those seeking mental health attention at the emergency department.

“Sometimes, those people just want to come in and talk; they can send them over to us, and that can free up space for someone that is possibly in crisis or suicidal.”

The centre will be open to all ages, and staff will help direct them to the appropriate services, if and where needed; follow up staff will also be on hand during the daytime hours.

“Some people may already be connected with a local agency, but maybe they’re having a bad day, and can’t wait until their next appointment to talk to someone.”

“We are going to fill in that gap.”

The last piece of the puzzle is funding for clinical staff, said Ingles, who is seeking help from the offices of MP Marilyn Gladu and MPP Bob Bailey to secure grant money.

“Once we are able to get the funding and hire staff, we’ll be able to open our doors. It all comes down to money.”

Deker’s Place now has a permanent space — a residential home near the hospital — donated to the foundation, along with renovations provided free of charge from the local carpenters’ union.

Aside from a $20,000 boost from the County of Lambton back in 2015 which helped cover costs of furnishings, computers, telephones, etc. — fundraising has been slow, she noted. A BMX Competition and golf tournament are planned for July.

“We are a whole new idea — and we’re the first foundation for suicide prevention in Canada that actually has a space,” she said. “And we’re not going anywhere. We are going to make sure we are here for the community.”

For more information, visit www.dekerbauerfoundation.com or search “The Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention” on Facebook.

If you or someone you know is in distress, contact Lambton Mental Health Crisis Services at 519-336-3445.

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