Saturday morning, Sept. 23, the Shawnee Family Health Center hosted their 3rd Annual Shine a Light on Suicide Awareness 5K. There were 120 people pre-registered for the event, with additional participants registering on the morning of the race. Aside from the race itself, the event welcomed live music and community booths.
“It’s a real representation of everyone in the community, general members, social agencies, local businesses. We have representation from Hope Source, Deaf Services, Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, SOMC and dozens of other community supporters,” said Anita Bowman of Shawnee Family Health.
All proceeds from the 5K went to the Suicide Coalition which helps spread awareness and prevention of suicide by educating the community through speakers and additional programs, like Gate Keeping, which teaches people how to recognize the warning signs.
“It’s amazing to see everyone come out and support the cause. The event grows every year. The 5k is bringing awareness to our community. Our goal is to bring total prevention to the community. We would like to see zero suicides,” said Bowman. “The only way people we can do that is by spreading awareness and getting rid of the stigma.”
Posters along the course of the 5K shared the startling reality of suicide statistics like the rising numbers in youth and LGBT suicides. An American dies by suicide every 12.3 minutes, while nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide every year. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with 1.1 million Americans attempting suicide annually according to the the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
For anyone contemplating suicide, Shawnee Family Health urges them to seek out help.
“There are hotlines, you can walk into an emergency room. A first step can even be reaching out to a friend or family member, they may be able to recognize it before we can and can assist in taking the next step,” said Janine Haas of Shawnee Health. “Talk to clergy, a doctor, anyone can help. We’ve done a lot of community education through our speaker’s bureau regarding suicide,” said Anita Bowman.
At the conclusion of the welcoming ceremony, Reverend Allison Bauer recited lyrics from Chris Rice’s song Go Light Your World which coincides with the “Shine a light on Suicide Awareness” message. “Carry your candle, run to the darkness. Seek out the helpless, confused and torn and hold out your candle for all to see it. Take your candle, and go light your world.”
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932