Offering support, paying tribute

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Youth from Impact Prevention walk to the Ohio River in Ironton on Thursday to release luminaries in memory of those who died from suicide. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Impact Prevention hosts annual Suicide Prevention Walk

On Thursday, members of Impact Prevention, along with those from the community, took part in their annual Suicide Prevention Walk, beginning at the Lawrence County Courthouse, and they had a message to those struggling that they are not alone.

This is the fourth year for the event, which is part of the many youth-led programs offered by the Ironton-based nonprofit.

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“We’ve been planning it for two months,” Sam Wallace, a St. Joseph High School student and member of the group’s youth-led prevention team said.

This year’s walk differed from past years in two ways. At the courthouse steps, there was a performance from the Tri-State STEM+M Early College High School choir, who sang “Keep Holding On,” by Avril Lavigne.

The Tri-State STEM+M Early College High School choir sings at Impact Prevention’s annual Suicide Prevention Walk in Ironton on Thursday. (Submitted photo)

While at the conclusion of the walk, at the Ironton riverfront, there was a community event, with resource groups setting up tables and games.

“The walk is the main part, but we wanted to offer something more welcoming at the event after, to keep people here and be a part of society,” Wallace said.

At the riverfront, those who had lost a loved one to suicide were invited to speak about the person they knew, followed by the procession, which has taken place in years past, to the river, where luminaries were set in the water in their memory.

The gathering also stopped by Impact Prevention’s mural on the floodwall, where Gavin Simpson explained that, each year, they make a new addition to the artwork.

This year, they added a semicolon, which he said was symbolic.

“A semicolon is not the end of a sentence, and it’s not the end of your story,” he said.

Wallace said the goal of the event was to draw in the public to their efforts.

“We made it really something for the community to join in,” he said.

Wallace said the next big project for the group will be their Youth Rally, set for November, in which students from multiple schools will come together

Meagan Joseph, a prevention specialist, with Impact Prevention, said those who are struggling with depression and having thoughts of suicide can call the toll-free hotline at 988 for assistance.