On the evening of Tuesday, September 16, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Department of Health and Human Services’ Prevention and Intervention Program held the second annual Suicide Awareness Glow Walk. This walk brought together approximately 180 people who came out to honor those who have passed, help those who are affected to heal, and help to increase suicide awareness on the Community.
“We’re hoping to raise awareness to prevent suicide and take away some of the stigma about talking about suicide, because it is preventable. It’s really important that if our children are having problems, or if they feel depressed for more than two weeks, they should go and see a health professional. They are never alone, and there’s always hope and help. Teach them young,” said Community Health Educator MaryLynn Marshburn, who lost a nephew to suicide. Marshburn honored him at the walk.
Prior to the walk, Community members and non-Community members filed into the Opportunity Center to receive a glow necklace, a foam hand in which they wrote a positive message for someone they loved, and information about suicide prevention. All were encouraged by members of the Behavioral Health Services staff to talk to others if they have any problems or issues. SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier and Council Representative Archie Kashoya were also in attendance to show support. Kashoya offered an opening prayer before the walk started.
“It’s really hard and emotional, especially when it concerns your children. When you hear your child ask you something, or they tell you not to do something, like ‘Stop that drinking’ or ‘Quit fighting,’ listen! Please. Sit with them. Don’t ever think you have the last say because you’re the parent or adult,” said Kashoya, who recently lost his son to suicide. He offered a heartfelt speech and continued to encourage Community members to love their children.
Inspirational messages were placed on the tables at the event and throughout the Community. Some of them included:
“Your feelings are normal—it will get better!”
“Failure is an event, never a person.”
“Your brain—a dangerous place to hang out too long alone.”
“There is always Hope and Help.”
After the walk, participants were provided a nice dinner. They mingled and learned that they knew of someone who had completed/attempted a suicide. They mentioned attending the walk to show their support for the Community and to let others know that they care.
“I came here for myself. I’m going through some hard times, and this event is helping me,” said a Community member who didn’t want to be named.
“I’ve had a brother-in-law pass recently to suicide. It hit really close to home. The warning signs were there, and he had a plan and he was following it. It was a huge blow for our family; it was tough. I came to show support for the Community and branch out to other events to show support for them as well,” said Community member Irwin Lewis.
“One of my nephews [completed a suicide], and I know someone who threatened it, but we talked him out of it. You’ve got to reach out and teach these kids. You’ve got to do everything you can to get to the kids because it is really tough out there,” said Hermena Grey.
“I was amazed how many people participated, even with the unsure weather forecast. Thank you to everyone who helped put on the event and who attended the event,” said Marshburn.
For more information about the Suicide Awareness Glow Walk, call Community Health Educator MaryLynn Marshburn at (480) 362-7327. (480) 362-7327.