September 14, 2020

RBC Race for the Kids supporting youth mental health in the province

For the first time ever, the RBC Race for the Kids is taking place in Saskatchewan to step forward for youth mental health.

Facing necessary restrictions around public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is a virtual format for 2020 to continue supporting youth around the globe.

The race weekend is set for Oct. 17 and 18 and you can sign up for free when registration opens on Sept. 14.

No matter where you live, you can pledge to participate in a run or walk over the event weekend to support critical youth mental health initiatives through Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

For Jill Cowan, she will never forget the day her teenage son Max told her he was struggling with depression.

The middle of three children, Max was a caring and protective brother. He played various sports, worked part-time and had a busy social life as an AP grade 10 student with dreams of becoming a sustainable architect.

“Max was like the glue in our family. He was joyful, humble, and so funny. He just loved people and couldn’t do enough for them,” Cowan recalled. “Max always gave 100 per cent whatever he did. He was also a daredevil. We had several trips to the emergency for broken bones.”

While Max’s physical injuries seemed to only take a few weeks or months to heal, his struggle with mental health was a much longer battle. It was just shortly before his sixteenth birthday when Max opened up to his mom that he had felt depressed for many years.

“I knew that something was wrong because Max never asked for anything. I knew it was serious because he wasn’t the type of person to say I need help,” Cowan said.

That same day, the Saskatoon family started the journey to find Max the best help possible. He saw their family doctor and tried medication, as he waited to see a child and adolescent psychiatrist.

Sadly, five months later, Max took his own life.

“He was going to bed and I said, ‘I love you’ and he said, ‘I love you,’” Cowan recalled.

That was Cowan’s last conversation with her son.

“As a family, our emotions were so raw. You’re trying to piece together what went wrong and how this deadly mistake happened. There was so much guilt and so much shame as a parent that you couldn’t help him,” Cowan said.

Now five years following the heartbreaking experience, Cowan has co-founded a therapeutic support group to help others who have lost a loved one to suicide.

“I want Max to be proud of his family,” said Cowan. “His life is everything to us. I will forever be proud of my son.”

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis or thinking about suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1.833.456.4566 or Kids Help Phone at 1.800.668.6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.  If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital. 

Please consider registering now to support Saskatchewan families like the Cowans and Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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