The Edmond Sun

January 14, 2013

Edmond runners hope to spark suicide prevention, awareness

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Hundreds of determined area residents braved a cold and windy January morning at Hafer Park Saturday as walkers and runners of all ages and sizes, including some furry four-legged friends, participated in an event to promote suicide prevention.

Local suicide prevention group Forever Edmond organized the event, which it stated was dubbed “R3” due to its three-fold mission: “run to remember, run to refuse, run for a reason.” It remembered loved ones lost, and was billed as a celebration of life.

Two events were offered — a 1K fun walk/run and a 5K run. Before they lined up, participants were able to warm up at a wood-burning fire manned by local Boy Scouts, gather ’round a heating tower or sip on hot drinks served by volunteers.

Despite the cold, the energy level was high. Many who finished the 1K, and some who had arrived for the 5K, cheered participants as they ran — or walked — across the finish line.

Among the organizers were Emily Smitherman and Megan Meyers, both Edmond Memorial High School products. They said they were involved in the publicity effort, which included making phone calls and spreadsheets. The turnout indicated how the issue has touched the hearts of many area residents. They are planning for a follow-up event next year.

In a nearby pavilion, banquet tables were set up. One of them supplied information including handouts from HeartLine, Oklahoma’s 24/7 community crisis connection.

During a two-week span in January 2012, three Edmond teenagers lost their lives to suicide. Their families, friends and the community were emotionally devastated.

Since then, more lives have been tragically cut short in Edmond and other communities in the area, across the state and across the nation. Locally, suicide victims were males and females ranging in age from their teens to age 60-plus.

At Hafer Park, many of the volunteers and participants were there because of a connection to the local victims. Organized local efforts to prevent suicide continue.

Proceeds from the race will go toward starting an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention chapter in Oklahoma, Forever Edmond stated on its website.

For assistance with mental health issues, call 2-1-1, HeartLine’s 24/7 information and referral line for health and human service needs. Callers can get help, hope and information from a database of more than 3,000 partner agencies and 6,000 individual services. Also, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a helpline answered by HeartLine in Oklahoma. | 341-2121, ext. 108