A Walk to Remember: Laramie’s Suicide Awareness
Wyoming’s youth are taking their lives at an astonishing rate. According to the Wyoming Department of Health, between 2010-2020, 1,653 Wyomingites lost their lives by suicide. Over 15 percent of these deaths were 10-24 year olds. For 15-19-year-olds, Wyoming’s suicide rate is more than double the US average.
Wyomingites need to take note of September, as it’s suicide awareness month. With the highest rate of suicide in the nation, enough cannot be said or done to raise awareness and hopefully prevent our neighbors, our children, our family members, and our youth, from taking their own lives.
A Walk to Remember on Saturday, Sept. 23 is one of those events. The Suicide Awareness & Memorial 5K is hosted by local nonprofit Love Laramie. Founders Mallory Bond and Becky Johnson are passionate about mental health and suicide awareness.
One of Bond’s family members was a victim of suicide three years ago. Since then, she and Johson have held the annual 5K.
Many community members participate to “Keep their loved ones’ names alive,” Johnson said. Community is one of the biggest factors in preventing suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The 5K offers that community.
“Wyoming leads the nation in suicide. We’ve had so many people tell us how this has affected them. They thank us for it. We have so many partners in the community who support us,” she added.
After registration in-person or online (register here), participants can visit the table Hospice of Laramie hosts to light a candle in memory of a loved one. There is a five-minute speaker before the walk/run. One speaker was a mother who lost a child to suicide. Another was Dr. Juilo Brionez, the Director of the University of Wyoming Counseling Center.
The 5K is for community, not competition. People bring kids, strollers, and dogs; some choose to run, and many choose to walk and connect with others around the heartbreaking topic. Bond and Johnson ensure counselors are among the participants to offer further support and understanding.
Johnson said all the money from the t-shirt sales goes directly back to the Laramie community. Last year, two donations were made. One to the UW Counseling Center, and the other to the Fraternal Order of Police.
“There’s students and community members who need mental health help and can’t afford it. We want to help them get it. The police; they’re first responders. They see traumatic things, like suicides. This fund helps us buy them a meal, send them flowers, or help with any other kind of support they need.”
Walk the 5K. Talk to people. Connect. Raise awareness, and build community.