Dolly's Walk Home
“All these years, I’ve been planning to do something but I was caught up in ‘What would others think?’” admits Dolly Bhatia-Frolick. “Culturally, it wasn’t the right thing. People looked at suicide in a negative way.”
In any given year 1IN5
Canadians experience mental illness
Dolly’s mother died by suicide 35 years ago. She never really discussed it, and only recently told her children what actually happened to their grandmother.
“Sometimes you want to avoid it, sometimes you don’t want to talk about it but I knew it was time. I had to be true to myself. And it was a good time to do so.”
Although the conversation was difficult, it was necessary. This was also around the time that Dolly saw CAMH’s Not suicide. Not today. suicide prevention campaign, which launched in 2020 during the pandemic. She knew she wanted to help CAMH researchers give hope to other families’ whose loved ones have died by suicide, and found the perfect way to do that.
To honour the 35th anniversary of her mother’s passing, Dolly began organizing “Dolly’s Walk Home”, a fundraiser where she would walk 35 laps (14 kilometres) around her local track to raise money for CAMH. “When I was younger, there was a huge hill in North York and I’d pass by it every day after school. I’d just stop there because the view was amazing. It was my escape as a child. I knew I wanted to do something here for my fundraiser.”
Dolly’s original goal was to raise $350, another nod to the 35-year anniversary. She bought a replica of the exact balloon she brought to the hospital for her mother decades ago, with a plan to release it into the air when she finished. She built a following on social media of generous supporters. On walk day, a cold February 18th, 2021 morning, Dolly set out to walk with a playlist of songs that her mother loved, but she wasn’t able to listen to a single one because of all of the supporters who joined her for parts of her walk. By the end of the fundraiser, Dolly had raised $2,600more than seven times her original goal!
“People look at their circumstances and major things such as death or job loss as triggers for suicidal thoughts,” adds Dolly, who studied psychology in university as a result of what her mother experienced. “But suicide is on a deeper level than circumstance, and research helps find those. I’m so glad that there is research that helps people. Research has to be done on this because you can’t paint everybody with one brush. You have to know people’s story, where they come from, and understand and listen to find results.”
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