This week, I am going to step away from school finance, legislation, and 21st Century education and write about an event that supports open discussion of a topic we don’t like to mention: suicide. On Saturday, an organized walk and program took place in our own Tiger Stadium that focused on two groups of people–those that suffer from depression and consider taking their lives and those that have been hurt by the suicide of a love one.
This topic seems very bleak, but people from all walks of life came together to support the prevention of suicide. A “Walk Out of the Darkness”, appropriately titled to carry the message that we must be willing to talk about suicide if we are going to prevent it, became a blessing for the people that attended and shared their stories, testimonies, music and their time to advocate for a very worthy cause.
This was not a gleeful event like a party, but it was not a sad event either. It was an opportunity for people to heal wounds and to speak out about suicide so others will not have to suffer the senseless loss of a loved one.
This event didn’t just happen: it was much more than a walk around the track. It took a great deal of time and organization from many volunteers. This is the point where I received my blessing. It came from a multitude of people using their time and energy to conduct an event that reached out to others that were suffering from a loss similar to their own.
There were students, counselors, teachers, nurses, pastors, parents, community members and a very special mom, Kelli Pelzel, who organized this event and made it happen. There were songwriters, musicians (including The Communities in Concert Band), community businesses and a late recruited but wonderful master of ceremonies that supported the walkers and the program.
And, there were teams of walkers and individuals comprised of parents, friends, students, school board members, educators and relatives that raised funds for the organization, walked around the track for an hour and a half, appreciated the food and water, cried together, laughed together and prayed together. I am sure that others received a blessing on Saturday; in fact, Charlie McGregor, the MC, was open about his blessing as he closed the program.
The important point is, that for our community to “walk out of the darkness” of suicide, we must be willing to talk about it and work together to prevent another senseless death. At Rockdale ISD’s regular board meeting on April 18, 2011, the district will provide a report to the board that outlines our Suicide Prevention Program.