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Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk set for Saturday

The ninth annual Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk will take place from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at Carlton High School. Last year, around 200 walkers from around the region and state participated in this free community event. There will be a short walk (non-competitive — approximately 35 minutes), followed by refreshments and a short message of hope titled "My Walk" from Corinne Campbell, a parent survivor. Local Mobile Crisis and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) will also share community resources.

"We are aware that Carlton County, and many other counties in northern Minnesota, have some of the highest rates of suicide in the state," said Meghann Levitt, health educator for Carlton County Public Health and Human Services. "This event allows family and friends who have been impacted by suicide to remember those they have lost, as well as connect with others who have had a similar experience."

"This walk has been an important focus and connection for me," said Jo Angell, a mother who lost her son to suicide and who has been involved with the local Carlton County Suicide Prevention Task Force since its beginning. "It has been very helpful to have a special day where people come together, supporting each other and walking in remembrance of our loved ones; publicly stating the seriousness of suicide. We're all there for the same reason."

This is not a fundraiser; however, participants may want to wear something with the name/picture of the person they are honoring (not required). In addition, participants will have the opportunity to tie a ribbon to the banner that will be carried on the walk in memory of the person they are honoring. Information on suicide awareness and education will be available. Everyone is welcome to participate, and participants typically include people from the local area, as well as some from neighboring counties and around the state; they are family members, friends, human service and mental health workers, co-workers, and many others whose lives have been affected by suicide or an attempt.

The Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk is organized by members of the Carlton County Suicide Prevention Task Force, including Levitt and Angell. The Task Force, consisting of community members, as well as professionals, meets quarterly to plan further outreach for suicide prevention, awareness, and education in Carlton County.

In observing the importance of mental wellness, the Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk has become an annual October event on the second Saturday of the month. No preregistration is necessary.