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Posted by: Steve Kimmel 6 months ago

Losing a loved one or another important person in your life can be an overwhelmingly tough experience. And if the loss is due to suicide, the grief can be even more difficult and complex. Connecting with others who have undergone similar experiences – and uniting to urge people contemplating suicide to reach out for help – can aid survivors in finding healing.

It can also save lives. That’s why the team of mental health professionals with Parkview Behavioral Health Institute (PBHI) – Park Center is sponsoring a Suicide Awareness Walk in Bluffton on September 30, during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The message of the event? No one is alone because help is available 24/7.

“Suicide rates continue to rise throughout Indiana, especially among teens,” said Laura Murphy, LMHC, MHA, director of clinical services for PBHI – Park Center. “With the frequency of suicides rising locally, our team really wants people to know that compassionate, nonjudgmental help is available. PBHI – Park Center offers numerous support options for those who are thinking about, or have been affected by, suicide. We hope this awareness walk will inspire people to seek the help that is available in our communities.”

“Reaching out for help during a time of crisis can be a hard decision for many,” said Doug Selig, market president, Parkview Health South. “Maybe they’re concerned about dealing with the stigma of seeking help, or they may have been raised to think they should deal with challenges by themselves. Or they may simply not know where to turn. There is no need to carry the burden all by yourself. Highly trained mental health professionals with Parkview and other local organizations can shine a light in the darkness. They are only a phone call or text away, and we hope this walk will reach people who need to know that.” 

The Suicide Awareness Walk will be held at the Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District Track, 1 Tiger Trail in Bluffton, from 3 to 6 p.m. Check-in begins at 3 p.m., followed by opening remarks at 3:30 p.m. from Jinny Broderick, LCSW, clinical program manager for PBHI’s Bluffton and Decatur offices and organizer of the walk. Lane Sander, of Sonlight Wesleyan Church, will offer a blessing for the event. Finally, the two-mile walk (eight laps) around the track will take place from 3:45 to 6 p.m.

Parkview and other local organizations will also be on hand to provide helpful information. These and other organizations will have representatives at the event:    

• Adams-Wells Crisis Center
• Family Centered Services
• Firefly Children and Family Alliance
• Helping Hands
• PBHI – Park Center
• Renovate Counseling

Attendees who have lost a loved one and wish to honor their memory, or who want to lift up an individual currently wrestling with suicidal thoughts, can honor them with their walk. Walkers will have the opportunity to decorate a paper cut-out of a balloon with the person’s name; the balloons will be displayed on a sky-themed banner during the event as a symbolic “balloon launch” (an environmentally friendly alternative to releasing latex or mylar balloons into the air). Balloon decoration will take place at check-in.

Each participant who registers by September 3 will receive a free event T-shirt at check-in. Sizes run from small to 3X. The deep purple shirt features a graphic design on the back with “Let us be your hope” and a heart held gently in two open hands, along with familiar suicide-prevention symbols: the semi-colon and the turquoise-and-purple awareness ribbon.

A number of community organizations and individuals have supported the walk by underwriting costs or providing supplies and equipment. Thanks to the generosity of Renovate Counseling, the Sweet Creations food truck will be on site to offer free ice cream cones to the first 125 walk participants seeking a sweet treat. Popcorn will also be available thanks to Family Centered Services. Premier Signs has donated information signs and banners. Suicide awareness ribbons, pins and bracelets will be available courtesy of Jessica Bricker.

During the event, restroom facilities will be available on site, and strollers and service animals are permitted at the track.

To register for the event, visit Parkview.com/SuicideAwarenessWalk. Participants must register by September 3 in order to receive a T-shirt. For questions or more information, call (260) 373-6893.

Help always available

Parkview Behavioral Health Institute – Park Center, based in Fort Wayne, has additional offices at 1115 S. Main St. in Bluffton and 809 High Street in Decatur. The PBHI HelpLine, (260) 471-9440 or (800) 284-8439 toll free, is open 24/7 for individuals who are experiencing a crisis or need information on behavioral health services. Experienced HelpLine specialists provide confidential assessments, information and referrals for services, or admission assistance for inpatient or outpatient services, if needed.

Anyone in crisis or experiencing mental distress and in need of support can also call or text 988 to reach mental health professionals via the nationwide 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. 988 provides confidential, 24/7 help through a network of more than 200 crisis centers supported by state and federal resources.