Where would you find over 200 people marching down the middle of Main Street without any news media coverage at all? That was what happened last Saturday in downtown Lima at the annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk. Organizers had met for the past few months to get all the elements of the walk into place. Tony was there again volunteering his great sound system. Brenda organized a really nice breakfast for everyone and Cindy provided pizza. Pam from the St. Rita's Campus Police volunteered again to lead all of the walkers in your cruiser. Doug and Bob played and sang for the gathering.
It was such a beautiful day for a walk but the day was bittersweet. As I walked along remembering my cousin, Frankie, who had committed suicide I asked people, "Who are you walking for?" There was one group who were all wearing yellow tee shirts that they had decorated in honor of their loved one. A woman was walking with a picture of her son who had committed suicide 15 weeks earlier. He was just shy of 29 years old and had struggled for many years with depression. I asked another small group of walkers who they were walking for and one young woman told me she was walking for her mother. Her companion spoke up and said she too was walking for her mother. Both had mothers who had committed suicide in their mid-40’s.
Many I approached were there to support others who were walking. The walk proceeded up Main Street, around the square and then back again to our starting point at the Labyrinth just outside the Crisis Center. Labyrinths have been used for over 4000 years and symbolize people’s search for meaning and guidance. Some people experience peace and a sense of God’s presence. The Labyrinth was the perfect place to begin and end our walk.
Once we had all returned, everyone had the opportunity to say the name of the loved one for whom they were walking. It was a way of remembering and honoring a life and the love that others felt for this individual who had walked the earth with us, some for too few years by our estimation.
The event concluded with the release of yellow balloons. Everyone had one representing a loved one. As Doug sang and Bob played the song by Rascal Flatts - "Why," each released a balloon. As we watched the balloons drift slowly higher and higher, Tammie pointed out a rainbow in the sky. It wasn't one of those huge rainbows spanning the horizon. It was a small spot of colors just there where the balloons were drifting and it seemed to us that perhaps heaven was accepting these lives we were remembering.
Sadly as we returned home after the event we learned that a student recently graduated from one of our local high schools had taken her life. Our hearts go out to her family and her friends.