H.O.P.E., Walk to Remember helping unite families touched by suicide

Photo provided by Karen Anderson Karen Anderson is shown with her father, Neil Henry. Anderson, her mother and her brother will be participating in the Walk to Remember Loved Ones Lost to Suicide today in honor of Henry, who died by suicide in 2015.

MARIETTA — Losing a loved one is never easy, but is especially difficult when it’s by their own hands.

“We lost our son Dustin in 2009 and it was really hard to find support. I didn’t know anyone who had gone through something like this,” said LeeAnn Price of Beverly.

Price helped form the support group Helping Other People Endure, H.O.P.E., in 2012 and is an organizer for the Walk to Remember Loved Ones Lost to Suicide from 9 a.m.-noon today at Indian Acres Park in Marietta.

“It has really helped to have this group; people share their journey that no one else knows what it’s like to go through,” she said.

H.O.P.E. has members from Washington, Noble and Wood counties. Price said there are about 18 members now, many of whom will attend today’s event at Indian Acres from 9 a.m. to noon, with registration beginning at 8:15 a.m.

The event is open to family members and friends who have lost loved ones and those who have attempted, considered or supported someone with thoughts of suicide.

Fleming resident Karen Anderson, her mother and two brothers are survivors of her father’s suicide. Neil Henry completed suicide in February 2015 at the age of 70.

The phrase “completed suicide” is preferred to “committed suicide” by those who work in suicide prevention, as “committed” often has a negative connotation to it.

“My father wasn’t one who dealt with depression; we believe it was impulsive,” Anderson said. “He was starting to have some health issues and we’re not sure if it was because of that.”

Whether a parent, a child, a spouse or a friend, Anderson said that everyone dealing with suicide goes through the same journey of grieving and guilt. Finding H.O.P.E. and Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors, L.O.S.S., has helped with her family’s own personal experience.

“It’s been such a blessing to be part of these groups because, unless someone has been in your shoes, they really can’t know what you’re going through,” she said.

There were 12 confirmed suicides in Washington County in 2017, a rate of 20 per 100,000 people as compared to the Ohio rate of 13.7 per 100,000 and the national rate of 13.42 per 100,000, according to Miriam Keith, community recovery advocate at the Washington County Behavioral Health Board. More men than women completed suicide with the greatest number using the method of intentional self-harm by hanging, strangulation and suffocation.

“Community walks have been the grassroots sparkplug for suicide awareness and prevention work across the nation for many years. They provide a platform for survivors’ voices and a way for survivors to commemorate the life of their loved ones lost to suicide alongside each other in a supportive and empathic environment,” said Keith.

The goal of the Suicide Awareness Alliance’s remembrance walk is to raise awareness of suicide and provide acknowledgment of how serious this problem is in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Keith said.

Similar events like the one planned for today have been held in the past, with proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“That money didn’t stay in our county so we decided to make sure all money raised this year goes to the Suicide Awareness Alliance in Washington County to help with programs here,” Price said.

Keith said the walk helps provide funding for the Alliance to provide educational and awareness activities, such as Gatekeeper Trainings, More Than Sad program, H.O.P.E. support group, L.O.S.S. and dissemination of information at local fairs and other events, as well as publications like suicide prevention cards provided to Washington County youth, books donated to libraries and survivor packets provided to survivors of suicide loss in the Washington County community.

Registration at the walk begins at 8:15 a.m. People may walk together in a group or individually and can walk with no monetary obligation. The walk will go from Indian Acres to the Washington Street Bridge via the River Trail.

Any sponsorships or donations will help the Suicide Awareness Alliance continue to provide suicide awareness and prevention activities and programs in Washington County. For more information contact Miriam Keith at miriamkeith@wcbhb.org or 740-374-6990.

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If You Go

* What: A Walk to Remember Loved Ones Lost to Suicide.

* When: 9 a.m. to noon today.

* Where: Indian Acres Park, Marietta.

* Details: Preregistration recommended. To register, go to any Marietta/Parkersburg iHeart radio station website and the Facebook pages for Recovery is Beautiful, The Right Path and the Suicide Awareness Alliance of Washington County. Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. today. People may walk together in a group or individually. You can walk with no monetary obligation. Any sponsorships or donations will help the Suicide Awareness Alliance continue to provide suicide awareness and prevention activities and programs in Washington County. The walk will go from Indian Acres to the Washington Street Bridge via the River Trail.

* For information: Miriam Keith at miriamkeith@wcbhb.org or 740-374-6990.

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H.O.P.E. Notes

* Meets second and fourth Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at River Family Christian Center in Waterford.

* Contact LeeAnn Price at 740-350-3365.

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