Do Not Lose Hope

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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Sept. 10 is National Suicide Prevention Day

COLUMBUS—People are invited to view the Walk/Remembrance located at Stearns Park this month in honor of Suicide Prevention Month.

Suicide Prevention Day is Sept. 10 and the community has joined together to do the 6th annual walk this year online. Normally, the walk is held in September and draws 300-500 people at Harmon Field.

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Because of COVID-19 restrictions this year, the walk is being done virtually through a Facebook page, Do Not Lose Hope, as well as a banner and sunflowers placed in downtown Columbus.

There are 127 people honored who lost their battles and people are encouraged to walk 132 steps per day to honor the 132 people who lose their battles with mental illness every day.

Aaron Greene is playing a song every day for the month of September on the Do Not Lose Hope Facebook page with posts also from various people about mental health issues.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office paid for and placed the banner of 127 individuals who have lost their battles at Stearns Park in Columbus. The banner will stay at the park under a banner to be viewed throughout the month.

The Polk County Community Foundation gave a grant for the free t-shirts.

Mary Wells Prioleau, who started this movement after losing her daughter to suicide states “Our goal is to continue to make our best effort to increase awareness, elicit empathy and understanding within the community and assure consumers are aware of the vast resources available regardless of income.”

As kick-off to this year’s Walk/Remembrance 500 Do Not Lose Hope tee shirts, 150 decals and 600 temporary tattoos have been distributed. To date 2,300 tees alone have been provided free throughout the community as a tool to keep the conversation of mental illness and mental health challenges ongoing in effort to end associated stigmas.

Data from death certificates, excluding overdoses and single person accidents, reflect that 132 suicides occurred daily in the US in 2019. Respectively, to provide a physical opportunity for individual/family reflection a memorial garden has been set up at Stearns Park, Columbus, with 132 sunflowers aligned with a banner of ‘lost hope/potential’. The banner is a compilation of submitted photos and was generously donated by the Polk County Sheriffs department. The display will remain through Oct 1. People are asked as well to consider taking 132 steps daily throughout September honoring the lives lost.

Jessica Raines, Chair of Polk County Health and Wellness Coalition, the non-profit sponsoring this event, states “It is my belief that generating useful information, promoting unity and demonstrating kindness are the keys to ending the stigmas associated with mental health issues.” Further, having lost her father to Suicide she emphasized her hope that in future years we will need far fewer sunflowers to signify national statistics.

For additional information or a link to 2020 Walk/Remembrance, please email, visit the Do Not Lose Hope Facebook page or call Prioleau at 828-899-9699.