Richfield, Snow College site of suicide prevention walks
By James Tilson
EPHRAIM—September is Suicide Awareness Month, and central Utah towns have marked the month by hosting suicide awareness walks.
In Ephraim, the Snow College Wellness Center is hosted the “Walk, Run, As One” event on the Snow College campus last Tuesday. Snow’s event included speakers on the impact of suicide, and a 1K walk and 5K run event.
In Richfield, the Utah chapter of the American Federation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) hosted an “Out of the Darkness Walk” fundraising event on Saturday Sept. 7. Nearly 500 people participated in the walk, and over $11,000 were raised for suicide prevention efforts.
“Our purpose is to bring awareness to the many ways suicide impacts people,” said Rachelle Holbrook, suicide prevention specialist at the Snow College Wellness Center. “And at the same time, we hope the number of participants show how many people it impacts, too.”
J. D. Fox, popular radio host and local emcee, spoke at the Snow event, telling the audience about his own family’s experience with suicide. “Suicide prevention has a deep meaning for me personally.” Fox told how his older brother had died of suicide, and then recently his brother-in-law as well. “I’m a big believer in positive attitude making a difference every day.”
Rachel Sturmin, a student at Snow, told about her own struggles with suicidal ideation. “I’ve had moments where I was so sad I couldn’t move,” Sturmin related. But she told how when someone reached out, it helped her through it. “And now, for someone here tonight, I am reaching out to you. You are loved. We need you here.”
“We are here to raise awareness of mental health issues that can lead to suicide,” said Taryn Hiatt, the Utah chair of the AFPS, of the “Out of the Darkness Walk” in Richfield. “Our events raise money to fund research into this leading cause, provide support and education for those that have been affected, and promote advocacy work, so we can change policy at the state and national level.”
The AFPS web-site showed the event raised $11,078.87, from 495 participants. According to Hiatt, half of those funds go to the national organization, and half goes to the local community for education, training and support groups.
Both the Richfield and Snow events gave ribbons or beads to the participants, with different colors denoted how suicide had impacted each participant. Purple indicates losing a friend or relative to suicide, while orange means the loss of a sibling. White shows that the survivor lost a child to suicide, and red means the person has lost a spouse or partner. Teal means the person is a friend or relative of someone who struggles with mental health issues, and green indicates a person has had their own struggles with suicidal ideation. And lastly, blue is the color for those who support the cause of suicide prevention.