Annual walk raises suicide awareness
by Sheila Gardner
A group of Douglas County teenagers, committed to suicide prevention and “living out loud,” will be front and center Saturday for the annual walk in memory of friends and family members lost to suicide.
The teenagers call themselves “Living Out Loud” and meet twice a month at the Suicide Prevention Network in Minden, the newest recruits in an ongoing effort to reach out to teens and raise awareness of the issue in the county and the nation.
As of Aug. 26, there had been seven suicides in Douglas County so far this year.
The students formed their advisory group following a retreat this summer led by Debbie Posnien, executive director of the Suicide Prevention Network.
“We want people to know you don’t have to be alone,” said Taylor Gray, 17. “Even if you feel alone, you’re not.”
Aryana Petrosky, 14, whose grandmother committed suicide, said sometimes teenagers feel more comfortable confiding in their peers.
“Sometimes it’s a little easier to talk to someone your own age,” she said.
“We’ve all know someone lost to suicide,” said Jessica Drinkwine, 16.
Part of the group’s task is to remove the stigma attached to suicide.
“We’re not glorifying suicide,” said Jennie Stoker, 15. “We just think people should talk about it when somebody dies from it instead of beating around the bush.”
The teen group is busy folding 1,000 paper cranes in the tradition of hope and healing during challenging times. Participants will be invited to write the name of a loved one or a message of hope on the cranes to be displayed at the park.
In addition to Living Out Loud members, teens will be helping from Students Taking On Prevention at the Partnership of Community Resources and Douglas High School.
“We’re trying to get the message out to talk to someone about suicide, it’s not a subject to be feared,” Gray said.
Officers of Living Out Loud are Jazmin Zuniga, 17, president; Aryana Petrosky, 14, vice president; Jessica Drinkwine, 17, secretary; Taylor Gray, 17, and Jennie Stoker, 15, networking.
The group is recruiting new members.
On Saturday, the annual memory walk is set from 8-11 a.m. at Heritage Park.
Posnien, aware the date coincides with the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, plans a moment of silence to honor those victims.
In addition to the walk through town, other activities at the park include exhibits from 10 organizations designed, Posnien said, “to promote healthy living.”
Posnien hopes Saturday’s walk will draw participants from Carson City as well as Douglas County.
The walk is in collaboration with the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention and the Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention.
Walks are set for Douglas County, Reno, Elko, Hawthorne, Las Vegas, Pyramid Lake, Yerington, and Winnemucca.
The suggested donation for participants is $20 and includes a T-shirt, but no one will be turned away.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the opening ceremony at 8:45 a.m. Participants will walk down Highway 395 and return to the park. Refreshments will be served.
Participants may register the day of the walk or in advance by mail or in person at the Suicide Prevention Network office, 1702 County Road, A-3, Minden.
Checks should be made payable to Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention. Donations are tax deductible.
Information, Debbie Posnien, 783-1510, or visit the Web site: http://www.suicidepreventionofdouglascounty.org.
The Suicide Prevention Network of Douglas County offers:
— “Recapturing Resilience”, 6-7 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the Suicide Prevention Network office, 1702 County Road, Suite A, Minden. People are invited who have contemplated or attempted suicide.
— Survivors of Suicide, 6-7 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of the month at the office, for friends and relatives of those lost to suicide.
Orita Keebaugh is the facilitator for both groups.
She can be reached at 783-1510.