In the wake of one 24-hour period in August where three people died in Whitley County from apparent self-inflicted injuries, including two teenagers, the topic of suicide and more specifically suicide prevention has taken on new meaning for many people.
“September is national suicide awareness month. This is definitely an issue in our community we need addressed and not just put on a back burner,” noted Kathy Lay, a Whitley County Health Department health educator.
Two walks and a community art project are planned this month in order to raise awareness about the issue of suicide.
The first of two one-mile suicide and bullying prevention walks titled “Still I Rise” is set for Saturday and aims to increase awareness about the two topics, which many times go hand in hand, especially for teenagers.
“It is actually a walk to raise awareness about suicide and bullying prevention. We want to prevent these things from happening. We want to promote the hotline for people, who actually do have these thoughts, to go get help,” Lay said.
Saturday’s event will take place at Bill Woods Park in Williamsburg. It will start at 9:30 a.m. with registration and an address by Cecelia White, emergency services director at Cumberland River Behavioral Health, which is the local community mental health center. The one-mile walk will start at 10 a.m.
The second event will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Corbin City Hall and will feature an address by Eric Perry, an administrator at Cumberland River Behavioral Health. The one-mile walk will follow at 10 a.m.
82nd Rep. Regina Huff will lead both walks.
“I am thinking we are going to have really big turnout for both of these events. This is something that everybody is dealing with, especially this month. I want to invite everybody and hope everybody comes. You will be getting out and moving and doing it for a good reason,” Lay added.
The Whitley County Health Department’s Child Fatality Review Team, as part of suicide prevention month, is also sponsoring a community art project.
Community members are being asked to design a 6×6-inch ceramic tile with a message, picture, quote, or in memory for suicide and bullying awareness.
Tiles can be picked up at either locations of the Whitley County Health Department in Williamsburg or Corbin, or at the Whitley County Fine Arts Center, which is located at 428 Main Street in Williamsburg across the street from Williamsburg City Hall.
After you have designed your tile either from painting, colorful sharpies, material, mod podge, which is a photo transfer method, or other medium, return it to the health department or fine arts center by Oct. 15.
Afterwards, the tiles will be placed onto colorful display boards that will be taken around the community to be seen.
Tiles will also be available at both suicide prevention walks.
For more information about the community art project, contact Cortney Moses at 549-7373 or Lay at 549-3380.