It often takes speculation about the death of a celebrity to bring to light the presence of mental illness in a community.
The Suicide Prevention Network of Douglas County is hoping their eighth annual breakfast and walk will create awareness and education that will be utilized everyday.
Their Walk in Memory, Walk in Hope breakfast and walk is 8 a.m. Sept. 13.
With the recent death of Robin Williams, the discussion of depression has heightened the network’s efforts to raise awareness in the community.
“No one suffers from suicide,” Board President Tim Soule said. “It is a decision made from suffering from something else.”
According to Soule, more than 80 percent of people who take their lives are suffering from depression.
Less than half of those that suffer from depression are actually diagnosed with depression, and only half of those diagnosed get the treatment they need.
Negative stigmas attached to mental illness, including depression and anxiety, commonly prevent many sufferers from getting the help they need.
“We hope the event will help reduce the stigma about talking about mental illness and suicide association,” Soule said. “We hope to create a dialogue that allows those suffering to speak out and get the help they need.”
Douglas County has seen an increase in suicides, especially in the elderly this year, and the Suicide Prevention Network believes that awareness and education of the community will help lower these numbers.
“Elderly represent the highest number of suicides across the board,” said Danielle Lozano, network intern and senior at Seattle University.
Losing a spouse or friends, medical conditions and the ease at which an elderly person can withdraw or isolate themselves makes the elderly more susceptible to taking their own life than most realize, Soule said.
Soule hopes the event will help educate not only families that have lost loved ones or those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, but also the community.
“The more we can build awareness and the more we can provide the resources available the more we’re able to create a resilient, caring community that doesn’t let people suffer alone,” he added.
Emphasis on awareness of depression and suicide as well as resources available to sufferers are main focuses for the event.
“We can’t help everyone alone,” said Debbie Posnien, executive director of Suicide Prevention Network. “We need community support that can recognize the signs and help them get the help they need. We need more people who are aware of who their neighbors are and can ask the questions, ‘Are they getting their mail? Have the blinds been opened in awhile?’ Things that would be signs that the person is isolating themselves.”
Exhibitors and raffle prizes will be available at the event to create a fun atmosphere.
“Each of the exhibitors promote good mental health,” Posnien said. “We have spa treatments, dinners; a real variety of things.”
Each year a theme is adopted for the event and this year’s theme is kites.
“Kites represent the person we have lost and the string is a connection we will have with them forever,” Posnien said. “The string is the need for connection with hope, with community, with those who have died, with those who struggle and with ourselves.”
Supporters who are unable to participate in the walk are encouraged to come to the breakfast from 8-9 a.m. before the walk.
The walk will be begin at the Douglas County Museum & Cultural Center, and will walk down to the old C.O.D Garage and back.
“People come that don’t know anyone, but are supporters of the network,” Lozano said. “The supporters are just as important as those directly effected.”
Memorial signs are available for a suggested donation of $12.
They are displayed before and after the walk, and can be purchased by calling 783-1510 or at http://suicidepreventionofdouglascounty.org/.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. and is a suggested $20 donation which includes a T-shirt.
For information on how to register call 783-1510.