Booths, food and a crowd of people in brightly colored shirts gathered Saturday in Richfield to support an effort designed to stop suicide.
“Just to look out and see all the people here is beautiful,” said Tracy Balch, organizer of the Out of the Darkness Walk to Fight Suicide. “It heals my heart to see this.”
Balch, who lost a daughter to suicide last year, has since worked to find ways to fight the phenomenon of suicide in the community.
“By being here you recognize that mental health is as real as physical health,” Balch said. She said suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but that it doesn’t have to be.
“Our progress is tangible,” Balch said.
One effort that has been started is a support group for survivors, which is slated for the second Tuesday of each month at New Horizons Crisis Center in Richfield at 6:30 p.m.
Planned under the umbrella of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the walk was a chance for people to share stories, offer support and raise money to fund efforts to stop suicide.
In all, some $10,000 was raised by the event, which included 166 registered participants and 22 teams.
“Each of us has our own reason for being here,” said Taryn Hiatt, director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Utah.
For Hiatt, the fight against suicide was something she took on following the death of her father. She said people said things like her father was selfish for committing suicide.
“At that point I knew I was going to fight like hell so we could understand suicide as the public health issue it is,” Hiatt said. “It’s not a sin, or a moral failing.”
The event culminated with a mile walk, which took people around Richfield’s Lions Park, to First Avenue and back.
“Every one of us has been affected by suicide in some way,” said Ralph Brown, Sevier County commissioner. He said the county fully backs efforts to find answers to prevent future suicides, and to offer support to people who have lost loved ones to it.
Anyone who is struggling with thoughts of self-harm, or who knows someone who is, can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling (800) 273-TALK (8255).