Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize October 20 as Spirit Day, a day started in 2010 by Canadian teenager Brittany McMillan to remember the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth lost to suicide.
Many of us are wearing purple today in their memory and as a way to draw attention to the need for action. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens, and homophobic bullying often plays a significant role in these tragic losses.
I want to applaud the efforts of the purple letter campaign in B.C., which has collected thousands of letters urging the provincial government to adopt an anti-bullying campaign in every school.
I would also like to draw attention to the efforts of Ottawa youth who are dealing with the loss of a friend this week by holding a vigil tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Human Rights Monument.
Beyond wearing purple today, we also need to take action to bring an end to suicides caused by homophobic bullying. We need to ensure that youth have the supports they need, so that no one is left feeling that suicide is the only option. We need to listen to the calls from youth to make things better now. Yes, for most it will get better, but some feel they cannot wait.
We need a national suicide prevention program and we need to ensure youth have access to supports like gay-straight alliances in their schools. Let Spirit Day move us closer to these goals.