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Walk raises suicide awareness

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RONAN – Tears were shed and hugs shared as more than 120 people came together at Ronan High School track and football field Friday afternoon to walk in memory and celebrate the lives of loved ones they’ve lost to suicide and promote awareness for suicide prevention. 

According to event organizers, Reason to Live Native and Together as One, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The goal of the walk was to increase awareness of the issue and gain visibility, while promoting hope and resiliency for those who are suffering from depression and other risk factors related to suicide.

Before the group looped around the football field, they gathered to makes signs and share personal stories.

Dolly Irvine was one of the participants affected by suicide. In February of 2018, her son took his own life.  “It’s been seven months yesterday and it feels just like yesterday,” Irvine tearfully told the crowd. “It’s really hard. Trying to get out there and be amongst the people and live my life.”

Irvine went on to share her own struggles and personal challenges in coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide.

“I want everybody out there to know if you need to talk, my house is always open,” Irvine said. “It’s hard, and I pray that we get together as one to find something to help these young kids through their tough times.”

Many walk participants stressed the same message, the importance of lending an ear and reaching out to a friend, family, or coworker who may be suicidal.  

“I have offered my ears to each and every one of you,” event speaker Mike Kenmille said. “It is as important to be a good listener as it is important to speak out your feelings. Don’t hold anything in. Just getting it off your shoulders, getting it out of your mind, helps.”

Others, like Mariah Friedlander and her young daughter, Juniper First Strike, came to support the local community and those struggling with mental illness.

“Stay Strong” was written on the front, while “Help is available…”  was written on the back of a poster board sign carried by Darlene Flores. She was out in support of her grandchildren who were affected by the recent suicide of a friend. “It affected them big time,” Flores said. 

For those experiencing suicidal thoughts, who have a mental illness or just need someone to talk to, there are people and resources within the Mission Valley that can help. Call 1-800-273-8255 or text MT to 741741. Those who are concerned about someone’s well-being, are encouraged to reach out. Simply asking someone about their day and listening to what they are going through has the potential to save a life. Event goers noted: don’t be afraid to start the conversation.

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