9th annual “Walk in Memory – Walk for Hope” encourages suicide awareness | RecordCourier.com

9th annual “Walk in Memory – Walk for Hope” encourages suicide awareness

by Sarah Hauck
Photos of suicide victims line the area around the flagpole at the Douglas County Historical Museum in Gardnerville last year.
Brad Coman file Photo | The Record-Courier



Where: Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville

When: Sept. 12

Info: www.nvsuicideprevention.org or call 783-1510

A bird holding a French fry in its beak will emblazon the T-shirts of “Team Timmy” as a way of honoring a friend who lived life like “a bird who found a French fry in a parking lot” at Suicide Prevention Network’s 9th annual “Walk in Memory – Walk for Hope.”

Honoring instead mourning those who committed suicide, walkers and memorial kites will take the lawn of the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center in Gardnerville on Sept. 12.

“This is not a sad event,” Suicide Prevention Network Executive Director Debbie Posnien said. “Many people feel it is their job to bring awareness. We also go there to celebrate the lives of those that have completed suicide.”

In its ninth year, the walk has grown from 10 walkers to 150.

Spearheading “Team Timmy,” Tara Alto felt the walk was a way to celebrate Timmy’s life, months after he completed suicide.

Encouraged by the more than 200 people who attended the former Gardnerville resident’s memorial service, Alto started a Facebook group for the walk and will join more than 50 of Timmy’s friends.

“We wanted to celebrate him and remember him and honor him,” Alto said. “We thought what a perfect way to celebrate his life than walking with other friends and family affected by suicide.”

Timmy’s death was sudden and unexpected as are most suicides.

Knowing Timmy for less than a year, Alto said the signs of his struggle were never evident.

“He touched so many people’s lives,” she said. “ None of use knew he was in so much pain. He never asked for help. He was always helping others.”

The walk serves as not only a way of connecting those in the community with others who have been affected by suicide, but also as an outlet for raising awareness.

Suicide rates remain too high for Douglas County, Posnien said.

“There were 23 completed suicides last year,” Posnien said. “That means we are still not reaching out to those that are struggling. We want the walk to get people to think about suicide and stop the epidemic.”

The walk coincides with the national suicide recognition walk, with other events happening the same day around the country.

This year’s walk will be in a scavenger hunt style through Gardnerville and Minden, stopping at various locations.

“Participants will walk a path of awareness, and a path of someone who really wants to make a difference,” Posnien said.

Team Timmy’s goal is to share their friend’s love for people and life with others as well as cling tight to each other and other survivors of suicide.

Alto hopes the walk can encourage friends and family members of people who feel they may be struggling with thoughts of suicide to push the taboo aside and talk.

“I cannot tell you how shocked we all were,” she said. “The outpouring of love and how many friends of Timmy’s that were hurt by this continues to amaze me. We want to be able to enjoy the walk in a positive way and honor his life. If we can encourage someone to start the conversation we’ve succeeded. With Timmy the obvious signs were not there, but there were little things that showed his pain that I’ve noticed in hindsight. If I would have just pushed him to talk maybe I could have helped him.”

In a text message to Alto, Timmy’s mother expressed the importance of the walk and building awareness towards suicide prevention.

“That impact is still being felt every day in so many ways. Undetected depression is a killer, if the depressed person is unable to express how they are feeling. I am so grateful for all of the support from Tim’s friends. They have rallied around me and given back the love he gave.”

The walk begins at 9 a.m. with a breakfast for hope beginning at 8 a.m.

Registration for the walk for adults is a $20 suggested donation, which includes a T-shirt.

Memorial signs can also be purchased for $12.

To register for the walk or more information visit http://www.nvsuicideprevention.org or call 783-1510.