Scores of people walked a loop around the north side of Huntington on Saturday evening, Sept. 21, to call attention to the issue of teen suicide.
The 170 people who took part in this year's walk, the fourth annual, is a record for the event, says Jan Williams, executive director of the Huntington County Youth Services Bureau.
Last year, she says, the walk drew just 100 people.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 24 in the United States, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, GA, says.
The fourth annual Walk for Hope was organized by the Youth Services Bureau and the Teen Suicide Prevention Task Force to both raise awareness of the issue and raise funds to support suicide prevention services in Huntington County.
The CDC also notes that drug and alcohol abuse can put a young person at risk for suicide. Because of that, LACE (Local Anti-Drug Coalition Effort) is working to reduce the use of drugs and alcohol by Huntington County youth.
LACE is the local arm of the Governor's Commission for a Drug Free Indiana.
"If we can reduce the number of youth who are experimenting and using drugs and alcohol we will in help reduce one of the contributing factor in teen suicide," says Williams.
The Youth Services Bureau has implemented a community suicide prevention protocol, a coordinated response which is used throughout the community to provide prompt assistance to youth considering suicide. Anyone working with youth can activate the response at any time, and youth considering suicide can get immediate help by calling 530-7676.
During 2012, Williams says, the response was activated 36 times; so far this year, 29 Huntington County youth have received immediate assistance through the protocol.
Complete caption: Participants in the fourth annual Walk for Hope walk down MacGahan Street at the beginning of a two-mile loop, starting and ending at Huntington North High School, to raise awareness of and raise funds to prevent youth suicide in Huntington County. The walk is sponsored by the Youth Services Bureau and the Teen Suicide Prevention Task Force.