KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
The Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope for Suicide Prevention took place in many Nevada locations, including Ely, this past weekend.

The Ely Times

More than 75 people attended the Suicide Prevention Walk this past Saturday. This was the 11th year for the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention Walk but this was a first time for it to be held in Ely.

Other communities such as Caliente, Carson, Elko, Las Vegas/Henderson, Fallon, Dayton, Douglas County, Mesquite, Pahrump, Winnemucca and Yerington also held a walking event across Nevada.

Tonya Lemich coordinated this event for Ely and said, “Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope is for survivors for those who died by suicide and for those who walk for suicide prevention. Today we remember those who died, think of those who are left as survivors, we hope to make a difference for those who are in pain in our communities, and remember that suicide is not about wanting to die it’s about wanting to escape the pain, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pain, how they lived is more important than how they died.”

Ed Spear spoke for his wife Stacey Spear, who lost her father in 1992 to suicide. Ed Spear read a letter that said, “March 21, 1992, that date changed my life forever, the phone call, my moms voice, the unexplained, unanswered questions will forever be remembered.”

Spear went on to read the letter that explained details of Stacey’s father’s life and said “the mental anguish over took him, and ultimately took his life.”

Stacey expressed in the letter that she visits the cemetery often, and often wonders if he knew how much pain he caused would he still have chosen suicide over solution.” Spear mentioned that the best way to heal is help, in any way you can.

Rick Ashby, who is a White Pine County Sheriff’s Deputy, spoke as well by saying, “What this event does, is it gives hope to those who are affected by it, it creates awareness.” Ashby read off lyrics of a song from a band called Disturbed, the song was called the Light.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but is the 7th leading cause of death for Nevadans. For every teen who dies by suicide, it is estimated that 100-200 teens have attempted suicide.

Each suicide leaves at least six to eight bereaved family members and friends.

Lemich asked for everyone to form a circle to perform an exercise before they started the walk. As she started reading off the paper, she said “If you lost a child, please step in the circle, if you lost a significant other please step into the circle, if you have lost a family member, please step into the circle.”

By the time Lemich was done, most of the people standing in the circle were in the middle, standing next to someone they didn’t know as tears fell, and people hugged each other.

Lemich said, “We are all touched by suicide in some way, please look around the circle and see that this circle represents life and that you are never alone. We are all here in togetherness and this is what this is about to get this awareness and support that we are all here together.”

Marin Van Tassell sang a song called “Home” by Phillip Phillips.

Austin Sorenson, a licensed clinical social worker from Ely Mental Health, said, “Lets all just take a moment and I want you to just look around notice how many people are here, how many people care, there’s a lot of mixed emotions I can see on your faces today, as were here today to walk in memory but I hope you also remember how many people are here and how many people care.”

Sorenson spoke to the crowd to let them know that there is help by noting that he has three therapists in his office who are available to talk to someone, the hospital is available, and that the school is expanding their counselors.

Sorenson said “I wanted to let everyone know that there is help out there, but it doesn’t start with just  my office it starts with you all here.

“I just want to share my experience, as I came down over the hill and saw you all lined up it took my breath away and it shows how many people do care.”

Many lined up to head out to walk around the park as some were in groups with their friends or family members, and some were bonding new friendships with neighbors, or co-workers who they didn’t know until this day that they too had been affected by a suicide.

Lemich thanked everyone for coming and said, “I just want to let you know how much we appreciate everybody being here and please reach out into your community and help each other, it’s only going to work if we do this together and we will be doing this again next year.”