Birthday party raises funds for mental health and suicide program at Ajax-Pickering Hospital

Published June 30, 2022 at 9:14 am

On Thursday June 23, Jack Astor’s in Pickering was bursting at the seams with family and friends celebrating Alex Monaghan’s 32nd birthday. But it was another bittersweet night for his family including his parents, Karen O’Brien and City of Pickering Councillor Kevin Ashe, as Alex died by suicide in April 2018.

“Alex was funny, smart, the life of every party and the last person you would have expected to die by suicide. He would have had a blast on Thursday but would also have been very humble about so many people celebrating his birthday,” said O’Brien. “We hosted this fundraising celebration in 2019 and Kevin, Alex’s siblings and I all wanted to again share our love of Alex with our family, friends and community rather than focus on our loss.”

“By sharing Alex’s story, we hope that we can contribute to ending the stigma around mental illness and suicide.”

The birthday celebration raised more than $20,000.

Tracy Paterson, CEO of the Ajax Pickering Hospital Foundation said Ashe and O’Brien have been “so open about the issues of mental health and suicide” since their son’s death.

“Their ongoing communication is changing how our friends and family – and therefore our extended community – think about both of these topics and are helping remove the stigma that surround them. This event, as well as raising such a large amount of money for our Mental Health program, is also spreading awareness and hope that only human interaction can.”

This is the second time Alex’s family have celebrated his birthday by raising funds for the Mental Health Program at Ajax Pickering Hospital. In 2019, the celebration also raised over $20,000.

The program provides people with access to the best and leading practice mental health care, treatment and support right in their own community. And the hospital’s inpatient unit has an interdisciplinary care team including psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, occupational & recreational therapists and pharmacists who focus on providing the highest quality of care and treatment in a safe and therapeutic environment 24‐hours a day, seven days a week.

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