On Sept. 10th, 2016, 144 Columbia County residents walked a 2-mile loop through Scappoose, OR. This was for a generous cause to create awareness around suicide. Hosted by Scappoose Police Dept. and sponsored by Columbia Funeral Home, this was just one of the 375 walks that take place nationwide to support suicide prevention and awareness.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) promotes the idea that it's okay for people to talk about this critically important topic. It's okay for people that have been affected by suicide to have hope. For those thinking about suicide, to understand that there are people who care and can support you in whatever hardship you may be suffering. The AFSP has a goal to reduce the rate of suicide by 20% by 2025, and the best way to do so is to get people to understand and talk about it!
The walk was a huge success with encouraging speeches from CCMH's own Brianne Mares, prevention specialist, who worked along side the Scappoose Police Department's chief, Norm Miller, and SPD's records specialist, Hailey Holm, to create this special event for our community. There were also special appearances and speeches from Deborah Zwetchkenbaum, assistant director for Lines For Life Crisis Hotline, and Marilyn Grover, vice president for the Suicide Bereavement Support Group.
Kristie Caveness, a CCMH A&D counselor, created a team (Walk of Hope) and invited CCMH's staff to join. The turn out was pretty phenomenal! We raised over $865 and plan to do it again next year. Our team members included myself, Juli Knapp, Kira Eagle, Shellie Henderson, Amy Bailey, Kelli Mcleod, Briana Hoskins, Tasha Miniszewski, Amy Quaring, Yvonne Scholl, Kirsten Harris, Cina Thomas, and several other non-CCMH employees also joined our team (who I will not name as I don't have their permission) but we are all so proud to have helped in this great cause. There is still time to donate until Dec. 31, 2016 (http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.teamParticipants&teamID=113970)!
For Columbia County, we raised over $9,900 which will go towards research and bringing more awareness nationwide. This topic touches one in every five Americans, and in Columbia County it was found that an average of 11 suicides occur annually. As it stands right now Oregon is ranked 10th in the nation for rates of suicide, and our nation as a whole leads 2nd in the world for people ages 12-24. Can you believe that? There are so many suicides that occur through our home that we are ranked 2nd in the world!!
Why is this happening? For most people, its simply feeling like they're lost and have no other choice. I remember hearing, as a kid, that if someone committed suicide it was because they were weak and a coward, but that is not true in the least! The disease of depression runs through our world and feels unstoppable, but we can stop it! We can teach others how to stop it! Have a voice, know that there are people out there to help, be a support, saving one life can save 1,000!
Even though this walk is over you can still help! Get in touch with local hotlines and find out how to volunteer (they're always looking), go to the AFSP website and donate (https://afsp.org/), if you see someone is struggling encourage them to talk about it. You don't have to be a professional to show that you care! Let's not give up on this fight, let's follow the steps of the AFSP and reduce suicide rates by 20% (or more!) by 2025!