Groups to hold suicide prevention awareness events this month

A sizeable crowd participates in a past Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Cedar City. This year, walks will be held in Brigham City, Salt Lake City, Vernal, Richfield, and St. George. The Richfield walk is next Saturday.

Groups to hold suicide prevention awareness events this month

By Suzanne Dean




A couple of national groups have designated September as a month when they especially focus on suicide awareness and prevention. And this coming Saturday, Sept. 7, one of the national programs will be staged in Central Utah for the first time.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has designated September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. And the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has declared Sept. 8-14 as National Suicide Prevention Week.

The most visible events during the month are the “Out of the Darkness Community Walks,” sponsored by AFSP. There are six such walks scheduled in Utah during the month, including one in Richfield on Sept. 7.

A suicide prevention walk is also being held next Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the Snow College practice field at approximately 300 East and College Avenue, sponsored by the Wellness Center and Black Canyon Cross Fit in Mt. Pleasant.

While most of the publicity about the Snow walk has been directed to students, the public is also invited. You can register on-line at http://www.racevents.com. Or you can register in person at the practice field at 5 p.m. A program starts at 6 p.m. The event includes a 1-mile walk and a 5K run. Prizes will be awarded to the top three 5K runners.

For the Richfield event, individuals and teams have been gathering donations and pledges from family, friends and businesses, or donating money themselves.

As of Sept. 1, a web page for the Richfield walk reported 126 registered walkers and 17 registered teams had raised $7,700, exceeding the original goal of $5,000.

The Richfield Out of the Darkness Walk will be held at the Lion’s Park, 575 W. 400 North. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The walk begins at 10 a.m. and goes for about one mile around the park and through nearby residential neighborhoods.

Registration is free, but the suggested donation level is $150 per walker. Each walker who donates $150 gets a T-shirt.

One element of Out of the Darkness walks is wearing “honor beads.” These are strings of beds of varying colors signifying the walker’s connection with suicide.

For example, white beads mean the person has lost a child to suicide. Orange signifies loss of a sibling. Red represents loss of a spouse or partner. Gold is for loss of a parent. And green is for a personal struggle or suicide attempt. A walker can also wear blue to simply support suicide prevention.

To find the web page for the Richfield walk, type “Out of the Darkness Walk Central Utah” into your browser. The contact for the event is Tracy Balch, who can be reached at tbalch31@hotmail.com or at (435) 201-0794.

There is one other local event related to suicide prevention during the month. Sanpete Valley Hospital in Mt. Pleasant will stage a QPR training Monday, Sept. 16 from 12-3 p.m. in the west conference room.

QPR stands for “Question, Persuade, Refer,” a paradigm for getting help for someone having suicidal ideation. QPR is analogous to administering CPR in medical emergencies.

The training is free and open to anyone. For information, call the hospital at 462-2441.