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Walk to raise suicide awareness

There will be a suicide awareness walk on Saturday morning.

Called “Your Life Matters,” the walk is being held at the Ironton High School track. It is presented by the Lawrence County Ohio Suicide Prevention Coalition as a way to kick off the new group.

Debbie Roach, the chair of the coalition and clinical team leader with Shawnee Mental Health, said the coalition is having the event to raise awareness in the community about the suicide.

“We want to prevent that from happening,” she said. “We are trying to focus on the basics so people will know.”

The basics include that sometimes people don’t act as depressed as they used to, but that may be a sign that they are going to act on their suicidal thoughts.

“We want people to come and get education about risk factors, so if they see their loved ones in that category, they can get them some help,” Roach said. “Suicide is the third largest killer of individuals aged 10-24. Sometimes, people think that kids won’t do it but that is the fastest growing segment of suicide completions are 9 and 10 year olds.”

There will be information booths set up from several community agencies.

There is no recommended number of laps around the track.

“We decided to leave it up to the walkers,” Roach said. “We thought about 13 laps, because there are statistics that a suicide happens every 13 minutes throughout the United States. But we are not going to tell people they have to walk a certain number of laps. This is not a race, it is just to raise awareness.”

Kristi McMaster, a family and consumer science teacher at IHS, has a group at the school called IMPACT/SADD and they agreed to host the walk at the school.

“Suicide has affected most of us,” she said. “With the coalition creating the walk, we were hoping to get the mental health organizations what resoureces they have available. That is our goal for the walk, to have the resources that attend it can see and know that there is always hope — that there is somebody you can reach out to.”

Another goal is for family and friends to be able to see the signs and symptoms of someone who may be contemplating suicide.

“It is important to know what resources there are before the threat, after the threat, and hopefully, before completion,” McMaster said.

The Your Life Matters walk opening ceremony will be at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and the walk will begin at 10 a.m.

The cost for students is $10 and for community members it is $20. The proceeds will go to help fund the all-volunteer group to do more events and have presentations at school.

“The coalition is not funded, it is really just people coming together to work together to prevent suicides,” Roach said.

For more information, call Roach at 740-442-7630, email preventsuicidelawrencecountyoh@gmail.com or go to their Facebook page, LawrenceCountyOhio SuicidePreventionCoalition.