EATON — The Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board hosted the fifth annual “Walk to Remember, Walk for Hope” on Saturday, Sept. 26, and participants raised $2,500 for local suicide prevention.
Approximately 100 runners and walkers came out to participate in the walk at Seven Mile Park in Eaton, despite a rainy Saturday evening in Preble County.
This year marked the fifth for the walk which originally started as Terri Hundley, now Terri Widen’s senior project in high school.
According to Widen, the idea for the walk started after losing her grandfather to suicide as she was going into her junior year of high school.
According to Widen, her goal was to create something lasting within the community for her project, something which could help raise awareness locally for those impacted by suicide.
With the help of the Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board, the walk has now raised over $10,000 in its five-year history.
All proceeds from the walk stay in Preble County and are dedicated to suicide prevention practices, according to Amy Raynes, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board.
The impact of those funds can be seen in Michelle Gebhart’s suicide prevention programs being done in the five county schools.
Gebhart spoke to those walking in the event, thanking them for their contributions to the program saying.
“Bringing awareness to our youth and community has greatly impacted the numbers,” she said. “We are seeing fewer and fewer kids acting on thoughts of suicide.”
According to Gebhart, when the program started 27 percent of kids were at risk for depression, with 13 percent reporting having thought about suicide and six percent reported attempting suicide.
Gebhart told those in attendance, since the beginning of the program those numbers have fallen — 19 percent are now at risk for depression, seven percent reported thinking about suicide and only three percent reported attempting suicide.
Widen has since become more active on a national level for suicide prevention — she is currently studying at Regent University in Virginia to become a licensed counselor and is planning to work directly with kids on suicide prevention.
According to the National Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2013, 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.
Local help is available according to Raynes and Gebhart, who advised anyone thinking about suicide or anyone who is concerned about a family member to contact the Mental Health and Recovery Board at 937-456-1915 during the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
For immediate 24/7 crisis help, call 1-866-532-3097.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @ aschmidt_RH.