Winnipeg teen who lost friend to suicide aims to counter stigma of mental illness
Michelle Gerwing, CTV Winnipeg
Published Thursday, September 17, 2015 1:52PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, September 17, 2015 5:59PM CST
A Winnipeg teenager is turning a recent tragedy into positive change.
Loizza Aquino, a Grade 11 student at Vincent Massey Collegiate, lost one of her best friends on June 17 to suicide.
His name was Miguel and since his death, Aquino has made it her mission to break down stigmas attached to mental illness.
On Thursday, Aquino hosted Peace of Mind 204; an original event where fellow peers performed and shared stories related to emotional struggles.
Premier Greg Selinger was one of the speakers who invited the room, filled with dozens of high school students, to shake hands with someone they don't know.
Representatives from the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Mood Disorder Association of Manitoba said 2015 has been especially hard for high school aged students in Manitoba. They said multiple teens have decided to take their own lives this year, and events like Peace of Mind are just the start of changing attitudes towards mental illness.
Aquino hopes everyone, not just those who came to the event, knows they are not alone with mental illness and that every life is worth living.
Aquino has also met with the Manitoba Ministry of Education to work on getting mental health training added to professional development days in high schools.