Grieving Baker Lake mom plans walk to remember her late son
“Suicide is not the answer"
In September 2013, Theresa Parker of Baker Lake heard one of the scariest things a parent can hear their child say.
Brandon, 19, told his mother he was thinking about suicide.
“I told him ‘you can’t, that’s not the answer,’” Parker said. “’You can’t leave your mother and your sisters and brothers.’”
Parker found herself frequently checking on him at his workplace and calling him to see how he was doing.
Her fears were justified – on Dec. 5, Brandon Parker died by suicide.
“I keep wondering why, why my son?” Parker said, her voice breaking, as she described Brandon as an avid hunter, athlete and loving brother. “He was always there for me. He used to go hunting for me and the family.”
What hurts even more is knowing that Brandon was one of 45 Nunavummiut who took their lives across the territory last year alone, Parker said, referring to recent revelations that Nunavut suffered the highest number of suicides in any year since the territory’s creation.
“I didn’t expect to hear in 2013 that that many people committed suicide,” she said. “That’s a lot – it’s too much.”
While the family has been immersed in grief over the last six weeks, Parker said she decided she had to find a way for her and her other children to heal following Brandon’s death.
That’s why Parker has organized a suicide awareness walk this weekend in Baker Lake. On Jan. 18 at 8:30 a.m., Parker and her family will leave the co-op, setting out on a three-hour walk towards Prince River.
That’s one of the last places where Brandon went caribou hunting before he died, she said.
Everyone in the community is welcome to come along, she said.
“I’ll be thinking of my son, and all the others that got left behind by suicide,” Parker said.
That includes Brandon’s father, who died by suicide in 2007.
“That’s why it really hits me when I hear about it,” she said. “People need to heal. They need to talk to their close friends, their brothers and sisters, their parents and grandparents.
“Suicide is not the answer.”