On the evening of Tuesday, December 3, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Prevention and Intervention Program, part of the Division of Health and Human Services, held its first Glow Walk at the SRPMIC Two Waters Complex to honor those who have taken their lives through suicide, help those who have been affected by suicide to heal, and to help prevent suicide within the Community.
“For a lot of people, it’s hard to even say the word ‘suicide.’ This was just a way to get out, [show support] and be physically active. This [event] was low-key; families [and] children were there. [Suicide within the Community] is tragic, so tragic,” said SRPMIC Community Health Educator Mary Marshburn.
Community members and non-members gathered for the cause, and SRPMIC President Diane Enos, Vice-President Martin Harvier and Council Representative Archie Kashoya were also in attendance to show support. Kashoya offered an opening prayer before the Glow Walk started.
Participants were given glow necklaces to wear while walking, and messages of awareness and support were placed on tables at the event. Some of the messages read:
“30 percent of suicides are gay-related. Every person is important! Refuse to be a statistic!”
“Lock your guns! The number-one way teens die from suicide is from family guns.”
“Sometimes brain chemistry needs a little help. Don’t be afraid to take medicine. Talk to a professional counselor.”
“Suicide is a permanent action for a temporary problem. It gets better.”
“There are a lot of people who want to be supportive; that’s why they showed up,” said SRPMIC Community Health Educator Debbie Manuel. “Friends and families showed their support, and that sent a strong message to those who are suffering. That made them think, ‘There are people here; I’m not alone.’”
“There’s always help; there’s 1-800 numbers and there’s so many resources here in the Community,” said Marshburn. “The way that [the event] was a success was the fact that Public Works distributed fliers to every single household in [the Community]. I would like to thank Council [member] Kashoya, the president and vice-president, my co-workers, the staff at the [Salt River] Fitness Center and those who attended.”
After the walk, participants enjoyed dinner.
“After the walk, I had a Community elder follow up with me, and she said, ‘There’s a shift happening in our culture. More and more people are beginning to talk about the difficulty that comes with depression, mental illnesses and even grieving. It never used to be that way. Even though our Community wants and needs help, there’s a stigma to go with it,’” said Manuel.
“More and more of the younger generation are starting to share their difficulties, and that shows me that there is a shift in our culture. The most important thing to do is get help when you feel like you need it. You’re not alone, and you have the support here in the Community.”
For more information about suicide prevention, contact Manuel or Marshburn at (480) 362-7689.