The 11th Annual Suicide Prevention Walk, hosted by the Delaware Suicide Prevention Coalition (DSPC), will take place on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 9 a.m. to noon at the “Jaywalk” on the Ohio Wesleyan University campus, 40 N. Rowland Ave., Delaware. This rain or shine event is free and open to the public.
Promoting hope, awareness, and change, participants will experience therapeutic art and crafts and engage with local agencies and groups that support suicide prevention efforts in Delaware County. The DSPC will also present the Community Connectedness Award which is given to an individual or group that creates an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, and belonging for those who face mental health challenges. After a brief program, attendees will embark on a 1.5-mile walk through historic downtown Delaware, Ohio to raise awareness about suicide prevention.
Walk organizers intentionally set out to offer a safe environment for people on any part of the spectrum of suicide and suicide prevention.
“Our goal is to support survivors of suicide, those who have attempted and survived, anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, and those who care about someone who struggles with suicide,” said Nathan Bonofiglio, walk co-organizer and suicide prevention program educator at HelpLine. “We know that connectedness is one of the strongest protective factors against suicide. When someone feels that they are understood and that they belong, their chances of taking their own life decrease significantly.”
As of this month, there have been nine deaths by suicide in Delaware County. In Ohio, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death. It is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34 and the 4th leading cause of death for ages 35 to 54.
This year’s keynote speaker for the walk is world record-setting ultra-cyclist Doug Chivington. His nonprofit work focuses on fundraising and promoting awareness for organizations that reduce the stigma of mental health, especially for the veteran population.
Affirming the core belief of belonging, Bonofiglio wants everyone to see themselves as central to creating a caring community where mental health and wellness is accessible and attainable.
“We want to meet people where they are and inspire them with hope, provide awareness about services in our community and encourage change by reducing the stigma associated with mental health,” said Bonofiglio.
Pre-registration is not required; however, a walk sign-up will occur on the morning of the event. Event t-shirts will be available at the sign-up station while supplies and sizes last. To volunteer, visit connectionsvolunteercenter.org and click on the volunteer link to search for the DSPC walk. Learn more at www.helplinedelmor.org/walk.