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Honoring those who have lost their battles

Do Not Lose Hope recognizes suicide awareness month

COLUMBUS—It has been almost 7 years since Caroline deRossett Wesley lost her battle to suicide, but her last words, “Do not lose hope,” will forever bring hope and meaning to others who may be struggling with mental health. 

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and the Do Not Lose Hope movement has placed displays in Stearns Park in honor of the month. 

There are 132 sunflowers representing the number of suicides in the U.S. daily; the Wall, which is a banner of lost hope and potential that has 132 faces by name and date lost to local people. 

In 2019 there was also an average of 254 overdoses in the United States every day. 

Do Not Lost Hope’s Mary Prioleau, mother of Wesley, helped start the movement in 2015. The movement’s name comes from Wesley’s last words she wrote the night she died. 

“It matters to me to keep her message going, and to let people know they are not alone and they shouldn’t be ashamed of having mental health issues,” Prioleau said. “It’s just heartbreaking that people suffer in the shadows and people don’t know.” 

The displays at Stearns will be up through Oct. 1 and then on Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m. the 7th annual walk in support of those struggling with mental health issues will be held at Harmon Field. The free event will be hosted by Aaron Greene and will conclude with a dove release honoring those who have lost their battles. 

Prioleau and Tamara Black started the movement after Wesley lost her battle and shortly after, her high school friend also died from suicide. His sister, Tamara Black and Prioleau started the walks in 2015. The movement has donated over 3,000 tee shirts, 600 euro decals and over 1,000 temporary tattoos in the community alongside periodic feed community pop-ups. The movement is done free through generous donors, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Polk County Community Foundation. 

Anyone struggling can contact the Western NC Mobile Crisis hotline at 888-573-1006 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Prioleau also says she welcomes calls from anyone seeking or suggesting resources at 828-899-9699.