Warning: This story contains a conversation about suicide and also contains details that may be frustrating to some readers.
The daughter-in-law of a well-known restaurant owner in Regina hopes that talking about her mother-in-law’s traumatic injuries will lead others to speak up about their mental health.
Peg Leippi, one of the owners of Peg’s Kitchen in Regina, on Saturday morning sustained injuries that include a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder, multiple fractures, broken vertebrae in her neck and back, bruised lungs, a fractured pelvis, and severe trauma. down her back, according to a campaign started by her daughter-in-law on fundraising site GoFundMe.
Alyssa Libby said the injuries were the result of an attempted suicide. Alyssa said that doctors told the family that her mother-in-law would be paralyzed from the waist down.
She said the wedge is still under heavy sedation after having major surgery on Saturday, and will need another surgery on her shoulder as well.
“Now it’s just a really long road to recovery,” Alyssa said. “We don’t know what that will look like.”
“However, we will have to start looking at moving her from her mobile life, which we are all accustomed to, to being in a wheelchair.”
Alyssa said Page has faced some mental health challenges for many years, adding that she didn’t know the full extent of those challenges until earlier this year, when restaurants were particularly hit by COVID-19 restrictions.
Alyssa said that after struggling with work for the past 18 months, they were starting to “get a little bit of hope” that they would have Christmas on a regular basis.
Alyssa said, “We had a financial hit on Thanksgiving that really affected my mum. She wasn’t really able to recover the way she would normally have.”
“And that really started the downward spiral of winter here.”
Alyssa said the family tried to get some help from a stake at the hospital earlier this month.
‘I never would have known she was struggling’
Because her in-laws — Paige and Fern Libby, who have run Peg’s Kitchen for more than 20 years — are so well known in the community, Alyssa said it was “appropriate for us to be honest with everyone” about what happened.
She said the family wants to focus on how mental health issues affect anyone.
“If I ever met Peg, she’s the happiest, happiest person… you would have never known she was struggling,” Issa said.
“What we want to do is make sure no other family feels what we’re doing right now.”
Alyssa said that if the family could draw attention to how important it is to talk to others about their mental health, “that could provide at least a little bit of light” for the situation.
“The biggest problem for my mom was her fear of being judged if people knew she was struggling,” Alyssa said. “But I don’t want anyone to be afraid of that and then catch them and do the same thing.”
Alyssa said the restaurant remains open and that the community’s response to the GoFundMe campaign has been amazing, including letters thanking them for bringing up the mental health issue.
“Every time I look at it, I try not to cry because we knew they loved society, and now we see how much society really loves them,” she said.
“I love reading it and can’t say how much we love the support.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than $49,000 has been raised in a GoFundMe campaign, which aims to raise $150,000 in the cost of Peg’s new living arrangements.
On Tuesday, Alyssa said, doctors were able to reduce some of the medications the wedge was using, and also relayed some promising news about her oxygen levels.
“This is great news for us and we just hope we can continue to receive good news every day,” she said.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis, help is available.
For emergencies or crises, call 911.
You can also call the Saskatchewan Suicide Prevention Line for free, 24/7 by calling 1-833-456-4566, texting 45645, or Online chat.
You can call the Regina Mobile Crisis Services Suicide Line at 306-525-5333 or the Saskatoon Mobile Crisis Line at 306-933-6200.
You can also text CONNECT at 686868 and get immediate support from a crisis responder through the Crisis Text Line, powered by Kids Help Phone.
The Children’s Help Phone can also be reached at 1-800-668-6868, or you can access live chat counseling at www.kidshelpphone.ca.