Suicide memorial walk is Saturday
October 7, 2022
Held the second Saturday of October every year, the Carlton County Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk offers those who have been touched by suicide a chance to remember alongside others who understand and grieve as well. It's not a fundraiser, but rather a chance to gather together and also bring awareness in the hopes of preventing future attempts.
The event begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Carlton High School. There will be a short walk (non-competitive, lasting approximately 20 minutes), followed by light refreshments and a short message of hope from Cara Keinanen, a Carlton County community member who has lost multiple family members to suicide. Community resources will also be highlighted including the Cloquet Police Department's embedded social worker program and Tagwii Recovery Center.
Jo Angell, a mother who lost her son to suicide, has been involved with the local Carlton County Suicide Prevention Task Force since its beginning. She said the walk has been an important focus and connection for her.
"It has been very helpful to have a special day where people come together, supporting each other and walking in remembrance of our loved ones, publicly stating the seriousness of suicide," Angell said. "We're all there for the same reason."
Carlton County and many other counties in northern Minnesota have some of the highest rates of suicide in the state.
"This event allows family and friends who have been impacted by suicide to remember loved ones lost, as well as connect with others who have had a similar experience," said Meghann Levitt, public health educator for Carlton County Public Health and Human Services. "It is also important for us to provide resources for attendees to pass along to others they know who might be struggling."
The walk will begin and end at Carlton High School (405 School Ave. in Carlton). Participants are encouraged to wear something with the name/picture of the person they are honoring, although it's not required. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to tie a ribbon to the banner that will be carried on the walk in memory of the person they are honoring. Information on suicide awareness and education will be available.
Everyone is welcome to participate, and participants typically include people from the local area, as well as some from neighboring counties and around the state; they are family members, friends, human service and mental health workers, co-workers, and many others whose lives have been affected by a loved one's suicide or attempt. Masks will be optional indoors, and social distancing will be encouraged both indoors for the speakers, as well as spacing during the walk itself.
The Suicide Awareness Memorial Walk is organized by members of the Carlton County Suicide Prevention Task Force, including Levitt and Angell. The task force, consisting of community members as well as professionals, meets quarterly to plan further outreach for suicide prevention, awareness, and education in Carlton County.