13th Annual Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk in Carlton

104 people showed up to remember those who passed, and those they left behind.

CARLTON, Minn. — Over 100 people gathered Saturday morning for the 13th annual Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk in Carlton, to remember those lost to, or touched by suicide, and raise awareness towards prevention as well.

The Carlton County Suicide Prevention Task Force has hosted this event for the past 12 years. With this year being the 13th, it has grown since its start, and has been able to provide a sense of belonging to those who are in search of it. Jo Angell, who lost her son to suicide, joined the task force years ago, and helped spearhead this annual walk.

“I needed to feel like I didn’t want my son to be forgotten, and so we organized this walk in remembrance of loved ones lost to suicide. And it’s turned out to be a really helpful, supportive connection for people,” Angell said.

The event is not only a memorial for the lives lost, but a celebration of their life. Organizers say it allows people to find some kind of peace with their struggles, among others who have been through the same.

“The event allows time for people to experience any more grief with that support of others around them but then also we encourage people to think of good memories along the walk to because we want to celebrate the life that the person lived as well,” Meghann Levitt, Event Organizer and Carlton County Public Health and Human Services, said.

An investigator at the Carlton County Sheriffs Office lost two co-workers to suicide. She shared the importance of uniting those dealing with the effects.

“Everybody here has been impacted in one way or another by suicide and so we’re all in it together and it’s not a bond that we want to have but we do, and so we just come together and just share the experience together,” Jessica Laney said.

With awareness about mental health struggles and suicide growing, organizers say progress is being made. But, there is still more that can be done to spread the word, and give people the help they need.

Levitt said, “our rates, state-wide, for suicide were actually lower in 2020 then they were in 2019 however we still have a long ways to go towards prevention as well”.

And for Angell,  this helps break down barriers, “sometimes suicide has such a stigma about it and that has actually gotten better because there’s so much more awareness and education and support out there now”.

Multiple resources were available at the walk, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota, says anyone can text “MN” to 741741, for free anonymous support anytime.

The Task Force encourages people to reach out to the various resources offered if needed, and have already scheduled next years walk for Saturday October 8th of 2022.

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