NAMPA, Idaho — This year's Strength 2 Thrive Walk-A-Thon for Suicide Prevention is set to kick off September 11 at Columbia High School in Nampa.
“It’s a time when the community can come together and support those who are suffering,” Jennifer Haagenson, Strength 2 Thrive Coordinator, said.
All the proceeds from the walk go to Idaho's Suicide Prevention Hotline which has seen a 49% increase in calls for help this past year.
"Everyone knows we are still living in a pandemic, and it's tough and really wearing on people so anyone who really wants help right now or anyone who feels in crisis or feels suicidal, we really want them to know that we are here and want to help," said Lee Flinn, Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline Director.
The Hotline operates completely by volunteers and is available 24/7 by phone or text.
"I’ve seen the impact the walk has made on people's lives," Haagenson said. "I saw one lady share her story of how she had attempted suicide 30 years before, that hadn’t ever shared it with anyone. It is just really powerful."
This year will mark the third annual event and features a 12-hour walk, a concert, a remembrance of those who have lost their lives, and a community support group.
"The past two years when I first went, I was coming out of a very dark place myself. A place of intense struggle and intense pain and being able to hear some of these people's stories and identify with some of the feelings that they were having and knowing that I wasn’t alone was a very powerful thing for me. Walking the track and hearing other people's stories was very meaningful," said Haagenson.
They're also trying to end the stigma around mental health, encouraging people to share their stories to show that nobody is alone.
“To walk around the track with each other, to hear each other's stories, to make a statement that you are not alone because so many times when you are experiencing depression, you feel alone. You feel like you are the only one that is going through this right now, and we want to say that it is not true," Flinn said. "You are important. We do care about you. We are here with you."
Strength 2 Thrive invites anyone that wants to share their personal story or that wants to show support to come out to the walk.
The walk starts at 8 p.m. and will end at 8 a.m. Walkers can come for a few hours or stay the whole night. All of the money raised goes to Idaho's Suicide Prevention Hotline.
"It is absolutely amazing to have this support," Flinn said. "The work that the Hotline does in operating 24/7 takes a lot and we are only able to do this with community support. Events like this demonstrate that we are not alone, and for anyone who is struggling, you are not alone."
If you or someone is experiencing a crisis, call the Hotline at (800) 273-8255 or text the Hotline at (208) 398-4357.
For more information on the walk, to register, or to make a donation, click here.