In the past few months, 16 first responders have committed suicide in Canada.
Vince Savoia has founded Heroes are Human, an organization that is working to try and understand just what is happening here.
Savoia has told CBC-TV that he calls this the John Wayne Syndrome — people who spend their professional lives helping others, but won’t ask for help when they need it themselves.
“It’s seen as a sign of weakness, when in fact it should be seen as a sign of strength,” Savoia told CBC.
Brad Symes is No. 16 on that list. Symes was an Edmonton firefighter who played four seasons (1992-96) as a defenceman with the Portland Winterhawks. A native of Edmonton, he played well enough that he was a third-round selection by his hometown Oilers in the NHL’s 1994 draft.
No doubt the Oilers liked the fact that he put up 73 points in 271 regular-season WHL games, along with 529 penalty minutes. As the numbers indicate, he was a tough, honest player.
Symes never did get to the NHL. According to hockeydb.com, he played three professional seasons totalling 141 games. Of that total, five games were with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs; the rest were split between the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers and New Orleans Brass.
Symes retired and later chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a firefighter. His father, Stan, had been a district fire chief in Edmonton.
Late last month, Brad Symes died. He was 38 when he committed suicide, leaving behind his wife of seven months and two young sons.
His family now is trying to come to grips with what went wrong.
The CBC story is right here.
“Our son was No. 16,” Char Symes, Brad’s mother, told CBC. “How many more do we really want this to happen to?”
“We don’t want to see or hear about No. 17,” said Stan Symes, Brad’s father. “We want it to stop.”
Friends and family will gather one day later this week in a Western Canadian community to say goodbye to another young hockey player.
He is at least the fourth teenage hockey player from the west to take his own life in less than a year.
The impact this young man had on people is evident by the outpouring of emotion on a Facebook page that was set up as a memorial. As you read, there are questions and no answers, and there is pain, real pain, coupled with bewilderment.
Of course, this isn’t just a hockey problem; it’s a societal situation. And it could be that hockey had absolutely nothing to do with the deaths of these four young men.
Spend a few minutes on the Internet and the numbers become mind-numbing.
“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death, following more vehicle accidents, among teenagers and young adults.”
“Teen suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.”
“In Canada, suicide accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15-24-year-olds. Boys die by suicide two to three times more often than girls.”
It just goes on and on, and it seems there aren’t any answers.
But the fact remains that the four young men who chose to take their own lives all were in regular contact with people in the hockey community. We simply have to find a way to help young people who find themselves in this predicament.
We have to . . . there is no way around it.
Here’s Cathy Schave Kemp of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club on Facebook:
“This is the 2nd young player that the hockey world has lost in the past week. Soooo sad. I wish these boys knew and understood that there is help out there. There’s sooo much support and always a shoulder.”
Here’s Sean Moloney of World Pro Goaltending on Facebook:
“If you’re ever feeling like you’re alone or no one cares about you, REMEMBER that there are family and friends around you who love and care about you. REMEMBER that there are people out there who can relate to how you feel. REMEMBER that the way you are feeling is only temporary and things WILL get better in time. Don’t you dare give up.”
The Regina Pats are expected to introduce John Paddock today as senior vice-president of hockey operations and head coach. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post reports that Paddock has signed a long-term contract. . . . According to Harder, “. . . the Pats will unveil a new structure for the business and hockey sides of the organization. Paddock will have autonomy in hockey operations, reporting directly to president/part owner Todd Lumbard. Chad Lang has been asked to remain with the team as senior vice-president while relinquishing the GM title. His responsibilities will be split between the hockey and business sides, also working under Lumbard.” . . . With the Pats also looking to add two assistant coaches, Harder also reports that former Saskatoon Blades head coach Dave Struch may be in the mix. . . . On Tuesday, the Pats announced that they have hired Gordon Pritchard, a lawyer, as their director of corporate affairs. He has been working as an assistant GM with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . If you visit, www.leaderpost.com later today, you’ll find Harder’s complete story.
F Pavel Zacha, the first player selected in the CHL’s 2014 import draft, has said he will join the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. Zacha, 17, is from Czech Republic. Immediately after he was selected by the Sting, one of his agents, Allan Walsh, blasted the Sting, saying the team had wasted a pick. On Tuesday, Walsh tweeted that “Sarnia has done a great job presenting their exemplary program to Pavel and his family.”
Two former WHLers, both of them from B.C., have said they will attend the U of British Columbia and play for the Thunderbirds. . . . G Eric Williams of Langley played with the Prince Albert Raiders and Spokane Chiefs. He completed his eligibility last season with the Chiefs. . . . F Manraj Hayer of Vancouver spent the past four seasons with the Everett Silvertips.
The Kelowna Rockets have added Travis Crickard to their coaching staff. Crickard, 27, will be responsible for the goaltenders and also will be the video coach under freshman head coach Dan Lambert. . . . Last season, Crickard was on the coaching staff of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. . . . Crickard replaces Kim Dillabaugh who left after 11 seasons and now is a full-time assistant coach/scout with the Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings.
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