Walk brings awareness to suicide prevention
A sea of walkers wearing purple T-shirts are hoping to make a difference in other people’s lives.
The group of about two dozen walkers participated in Saturday morning’s “Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope” that increases awareness and prevention and to remember those who have taken their own lives.
Bringing awareness and prevention to one of the top causes of death among Americans concerned many walkers, especially the friends of a young woman whose mother, a 25-year resident of Fallon, took her life in November 2011.
“I am participating to support Tia Sullivan and the memory of her mother, Courtney Morris,” said Ana Hardy, a waitress at Jerry’s Restaurant. “I know that Tia is a huge inspiration in our restaurant.”
Although her mother committed suicide almost two years ago, Sullivan still finds it difficult to talk about. When the subject rises, her eyes well with tears.
“She’ll never get over it, but it helps her to get out and talk about it,” Christy Winters, Sullivan’s stepmother.
Winters said Sullivan participated in the walk last year in Reno, and it allows Sullivan to release her emotions.
Both Hardy and Winter said a goal is to prevent at least one person from taking his or her life. Winters said those contemplating suicide need to talk about it or have people become involved. Misty Allen from the Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention and Caleb Cage, the governor’s office’s director of Military and Veterans Policy, spoke at noon about suicide prevention and signs and how their offices can help.
Karen Stoll, coordinator for the Family Resource Center, or FRIENDS, said this is the first time the walk is being conducted in Fallon. FRIENDS received a grant from the Churchlll Community Coalition to train people in a suicide prevention program.
“We want to help identify potential suicide risks,” she said, “by giving them training in signs and symptoms.”
She said the program also helps others confront a person who is contemplating suicide and directly ask, “Are you thinking of suicide?”
Many factors, said Stoll, affect suicidal people, partly due to Nevada’s poor economy, high unemployment and military members suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She added the survivors of a person who commits suicide must also receive help.
Nevada is one of the top states for suicides, said Stoll.
Churchill County Sheriff Ben Trotter, who is a volunteer with the coalition, said the area has too many suicides for the population. One area that bothers Trotter is the number of military-related suicide; however, he said suicide affects all economic level.
“Every area has suicide as a problem,” he added. “Every age is involved with suicide.”
Trotter said recent statistics show Churchill County has about seven suicides a year, which he said is high for a small town.
Andrea Zeller, director of the coalition, said both the walk and awareness session are community efforts among several organizations and downtown businesses. She said eight shops among Maine Street are handing out literature on suicide signs, awareness and contacts.
Tina Arata, co-owner of Bill & Tina’s Flowers on South Maine Street, said her first husband served in the military so she is aware of suicides and programs to help. She said the walk is a good start for residents to become involved.
“A lot of people don’t have support, but I want to see them get that support,” she added.