Updated: October 12, 2019 05:04 PM
In taking steps to provide suicide awareness, many would walk to the ends of the earth in remembrance of their loved ones and in prevention of suicide as a whole. Today, individuals from around the region gathered at Carlton High School for the 11th Annual Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk.
“It’s a good place to share. You know, that’s what people need to do. They need to share and hear each other’s stories and know that they’re not alone,” Annette Mills said.
Reminiscent of the very first walk, Saturday’s walk began with a snowfall. As snowflakes fell, individuals wearing purple pins to commemorate their loved ones told stories, shared experiences and comforted one another.
“I think the walk could definitely be felt as walking through someone’s shoes and also maybe a feeling of you know, walking towards some healing too for a lot of our attendees who have had real personal experience with losing someone to suicide,” Meghann Levitt, Health Educator for Carlton County Public Health and Human Services said.
For Sandy Raisanen and Annette Mills, their story began the day their twin brothers David and Brian were born. Following the twins’ birth it was determined that Brian was mentally disabled. This, the ladies say took a huge toll on David, who suffered from guilt and bullying as a result.
“He was so wise. He would be so thoughtful. He always was very patient,” Raisanen said. “He also cared a lot about people. He was very generous with this time.” “Family was really, really important to him,” Mills added. “He really cherished everyone. He was a good person.”
Over time, the ladies say that David struggled with significant losses in his life, alcoholism and bipolar disorder. A culmination of things contributed to him taking his life.
“My brother—he really struggled hard. He fought tooth and nail through this and when he got tired, he got tired. He couldn’t do it anymore,” Mills said.
Today, the ladies shared their brother’s story, as well as, some of the wisdom that they’ve learned and continue to learn throughout their journey.
“I hope it helped some people a bit. Well, I hope some people it helped a lot. Knowing that they’re not alone, knowing that life goes on, knowing that there’s hope for everybody,” Mills said. “It was a privilege to be able to talk about Dave. It was. It is fun to remember him,” Raisanen added.
At the event, numerous resources for mental health and grief were available. Some of these included Local Mobile Crisis, which provides people the opportunity to text M-N to 7-4-1--7-4-1 for help, as well as, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which provides people with a number of resources including the National Suicide Hotline number which is 1-800-273-8255 and the local suicide hotline number which is 218-623-1800.
“The grieving process can be really hard and it can be especially hard when you feel that you are alone in that," Levitt said. “I’ve heard from a lot of people that this walk has created a lot of networks with folks that they even knew prior to the walk, but didn’t know they had experienced such a significant loss and so they have made a lot of really important connections and that helps tremendously for healing."
The 12th annual Suicide Awareness Memorial walk will take place on October 10th, 2020.
Updated: October 12, 2019 05:04 PM
Created: October 12, 2019 04:42 PM
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