Editorial: Slippery slope

It's such a tragedy when a young person loses his or her life.

It’s such a tragedy when a young person loses his or her life, whether it’s to illness, an accident or natural causes. But when the cause is suicide, the grief is particularly heartbreaking.

Those left behind wonder how it could have been  prevented, if it could have been. But the mindset of someone who is suicidal is not something that develops overnight.

It’s the outcome of a prolonged period of inner pain and suffering, a sense of isolation that may not be apparent to even close friends and family, and a despair so profound that a positive outcome  to life’s hardships seems impossible.

That Cheyenne Michelle Mason-Lalonde felt she had no other choice but to end her life will have an impact on her community for some time to come.

There needs to be more public education around suicide, so more people can learn about the warning signals and how to help if someone they know is exhibiting suicidal behaviour.

And a smaller community, with its tightly-knit groups and cozy familiarity, should have better odds identifying someone who is headed down this path. Teachers, employers, co-workers, family members, friends, neighbours… all are in a position to notice whether or not something is wrong and take action.

There is likely speculation that Mason-Lalonde, in having been arrested and charged with arson in relation to the fire at Columbia Eagle Resort in Fairmont Hot Springs this past December, succumbed to the stress of an impending conviction and the resulting impact this may have had on her future, in terms of travel, being accepted into schools, being considered for jobs, etc. A looming criminal record may have proved to be too much for a young woman caught in a chain reaction of poor decisions, which unfortunately led her to make the poorest decision of all.

Mason-Lalonde will be mourned by those who loved her. And according to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort chief operating officer Dean Prentic who is managing grief counselling services for Mason-Lalonde’s former co-workers, the circle of those affected by her death continues to grow. Despite her problems, it appears she was an individual who touched the lives of many people while she was alive.

And she will continue to touch the lives of many more people as long as her unfortunate death creates more awareness and public support for troubled youth, ultimately helping others avoid the slippery slope she found herself on.