The Jim Young Society exists to make the world a safer, gentler place for those who struggle with mental health issues. Jim Young was a talented British Columbian wildlife artist who lived in Prince George, BC. Sadly, in 1992, Jim took his own life after a long, private battle with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
The Jim Young Society was launched in July 2015 in parallel with the release of the book, Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World by Jim’s sister, Heather Gordon-Young. Fireflies tells Jim’s story. The foundation is governed by a Board of Directors with expertise in counselling psychology; suicide intervention; child and youth mental health; family support programs; international business; and non-profit management.
The Jim Young Society is working towards better outcomes for children, youth and adults with mental health issues. The foundation’s current priorities include projects whose primary focus is:
(1) to create a world that is safer for people with mental health concerns to be understood, to ask for help, to be supported and to access treatment or
(2) to provide more supports in rural and regional communities.
The Jim Young Society’s first project is to bring the very successful Australian suicide prevention initiative – R U OK? Day – to Canada. The first stop for this campaign was Prince George, BC, the hometown of Jim Young. The Canadian launch of R U OK? Day took place in Prince George on October 20, 2016. We’re looking forward to R U OK? Day 2018!
Jim Young’s tragic death at 26 years of age was a great loss to the world and to his sister, Heather Gordon-Young. Heather, the founder of the Jim Young Society has this to say:
“Asking the people in our lives how they’re doing is such a simple thing to do. But this simple act of reaching out and listening can change everything for people who are struggling with life. You don’t have to know what to do – there are professionals who know what to do – but simply reaching out to someone to let them know you care can help someone to feel less alone. One of the biggest risk factors for suicide is social isolation – when people feel utterly alone in their struggles.”
“I’m going to tell you straight up: I don’t believe that it would have saved Jim’s life that day, if someone had asked him, hey are you okay? But I do believe that at 10 years old and 12 years old – and at 15 and 17 and 21 and 24 and 25 – if someone he trusted had checked in regularly and meaningfully, had listened without judgement and had helped him get the support he didn’t know he needed, Jim would be alive today, still creating beautiful works of art. As his sister, I can tell you, my heart breaks knowing how many opportunities we missed. That’s why I wrote, Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World. I’m deeply honored to be able to work towards bringing RUOK? to Canada in his memory.”