Chippewa County Communities That Care (CTC) has organized Suicide Prevention Walks for Sault Ste. Marie at Big Lots parking lot Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Brimley at Bay Mills Memorial Park Saturday at 4 p.m.
“I don’t know anyone who hasn't been touched by suicide in some way, shape, or form,” said Chippewa County Health Department (CCHD) Prevention Services employee Clara James, who coordinates the Chippewa County CTC organization.
CTC has worked with CCHD's Sault Health Adolescent Care Center (SHACC) to obtain facts everyone should know about suicide risks within the community.
- During the 2020/21 school year, 21.6% of surveyed Chippewa County middle and high school students seriously contemplated taking their own lives.
- 56% of surveyed Chippewa County middle and high school students reported symptoms of depression in 2021.
- American Indian or Alaskan Native grade students reported the highest rate of attempted suicide at 25.5%.
- An American Foundation for Suicide Prevention survey found that white males accounted for 69.68% of suicide deaths in 2020.
- Help is available.
The intent behind the walk is to show support, spread awareness, provide resources, share information, and get people comfortable talking about suicide.
“It empowers our local community to ask the questions, and have conversations without being afraid that they might cause something to happen,” James said. “It gives them permission to have the conversation. There is still such a stigma about suicide, even about getting mental health services. We really just want to get that conversation going, so that people feel good about reaching out.”
Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District Behavior Specialist Stacey Miller, member of the area’s Suicide Prevention Committee, will speak at both Suicide Prevention Walks this Friday and Saturday. United States Marine Corps Veteran Marine Joe Martin will share his suicide survivor story at the Sault event. He was unsure as to whether or not he could make it to Brimley on Saturday.
Miller told James that he is not big on public speaking. However, this felt like something he needed to do as a survivor.
“It affects young people; it affects older people; it affects veterans; it affects families; it affects postpartum mothers,” James said.
Thus far, 44 people have already signed up to participate in Friday’s suicide awareness event. However, pre-registration is not necessary. Participants are welcome to just show up.
“If you get pre-registered before Friday evening, you will get a free t-shirt,” said James. “We might have some extra shirts people can purchase at the end of the walk for $15.”
Community members interested in getting involved the Chippewa County Suicide Prevention Coalition are invited to sign up for Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) training.
“People who are passionate about seeing this grow can sign up to attend the meetings and, hopefully, we will get more people involved,” James said. “There will be more that we can do that way. Knowledge is power.”
Sault Ste. Marie Suicide Prevention Walk will begin at Big Lots parking lot and end at Joann Fabrics from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, and the Brimley Suicide Prevention Walk will be held at Bay Mills Memorial Park Saturday, Sept. 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Chippewa County Communities That Care will flood the Sault Ste. Marie and Bay Mills Suicide Prevention Walks with valuable information and resources.
To set up an appointment with Weber and Devers Psychological Services, call 906-635-7270. Its office is located at 605 E 7th Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI.
Hiawatha Behavioral Health is located at 3865 S Mackinac Trail, Sault Ste. Marie, with a 24-hour crisis line set up at 800-839-9443.
The 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or 9-8-8. The confidential call will be routed to the nearest crisis center in over 150 centers nationwide.
MyMichigan Behavioral Health Center is located at 16523 S. Water Tower Dr. Kincheloe, MI 49788.
If you need help now, call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room.
More help is available within the tri-county area.