Suicide awareness, remembrance goals of upcoming walk

Times file photo The Washington County Behavioral Health Board will host a community walk on April 13 to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention and to remember local people lost to suicide.

With an effort to raise awareness, remember the loss and prevent further suicide, the Washington County Behavioral Health Board will host a community walk April 13 beginning and ending in Indian Acres Park.

“This is our second year running this walk independently and calling it ‘A Walk to Remember,'” explained Miriam Keith, recovery and prevention advocate with the board. “It’s part of our commitment to serving survivors of suicide loss.”

The walk will begin at the boat ramp in Indian Acres Park and the turnaround point for the route is the Washington Street Bridge.

Making the walk independent, she explained, allows the donated funds to stay local–paying for materials and programming the board puts out for suicide prevention.

“I’ve heard many touching stories from students who haven’t known what to say to a friend but had our cards to walk them through and help talk someone in a crisis down,” she said.

The pain of surviving suicide is personal for Keith, who lost a son-in-law in 2013 to suicide.

“I absolutely know that if there’s a God, then Josh is with him,” she said. “At our walk, we hold this bead ceremony where you can recognize your relationship to someone who has taken their life, whether that’s a spouse, a child, a friend, etc. And each group will have one story read to remember that relationship and loss.”

Bead colors represent:

• White: Lost a child.

• Red: Lost a spouse or partner.

• Gold: Lost a parent.

• Orange: Lost a sibling.

• Purple: Lost a relative or friend.

• Silver: Lost first responder/military.

• Green: Struggled personally.

• Blue: Support the cause.

• Teal: Friends and family of someone who struggles.

Then with chalk in hand, participants can walk alone or in groups, writing along the River Trail the names of those lost.

“There’s no monetary requirement to participate, but we do take donations at registration and have had many sponsors pouring in support,” Keith said.

Three of the top donators this year were the HOPE (Helping Other People Endure) Support Group, Luminant in Beverly (formerly Dynegy) and Little Hocking United Methodist Church.

The HOPE Support Group, which raised $1,800 for the walk, offers an environment for sharing and support to anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one by suicide.

Luminant made a donation of $500 for the event to the Suicide Awareness Alliance, compounding its aid to the annual walk from last year’s sponsorship of tables and food.

Between two groups in the Little Hocking church, $231 was donated to the walk and the Suicide Awareness Alliance.

As of Tuesday, donations had reached $5,223.

“We do a lot of promotional work with that money,” explained Keith. “But we’re also hoping to get this wonderful speaker on suicide for a one-day conference. Dr. Allen Wolfelt I’ve heard speak before, and he just connects in such a heartfelt way with people but brings his psychological expertise to the program, too.”

Additional programming support is also offered to the House of Hope on County House Lane through fundraising like the April 13 walk.

“I will talk with our members to see if it’s an event they’re interested in attending,” said Mike Dennis, executive director of the House of Hope. “We can provide transportation if needed.”

The state-licensed day peer support center currently offers programming and care Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“But we’re also looking to the county for more funding to expand our services,” explained Dennis.

If you go:

• What: A Walk to Remember –raise awareness and prevention of suicide and remember loved ones lost to suicide.

• When: April 13, registration begins at 8:15 a.m., walk starts at 9 a.m.

• Where: Indian Acres Park to East Muskingum Park.

• Who: All are welcome.

• How to register:

• Online: http://bit.ly/WalkRemember2019

• Email: miriamkeith@wcbhb.org.

• Same day: Indian Acres Park, 8:15 a.m. April 13.

Source: Miriam Keith.

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