Hundreds walk to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention

Hundreds walk to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 500 people gathered Sunday morning at Garmin’s headquarters in Olathe, Kansas, to walk to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

This is the seventh year the walk has been organized by the Kansas City-area nonprofit SPEAK UP, which aims to reduce the stigma around mental illness and suicide.

The organization was founded by two families who each lost a child to suicide in 2015: Jason Arkin and Sarah Prideaux. The Arkin and Doss families say they are recovering from their loss to encourage open conversations about mental health awareness in the community.

Other families who have experienced loss due to suicide have also participated in the walk, as a form of healing and coming together.

In addition to raising awareness, funds were raised during the SPEAK UP walk, raising $175,000 before the walk even started. The funds will support programs like Sources of strengtha suicide prevention program in several school districts in the Kansas City area.

SPEAK UP board member Jan Marrs, who lost his daughter Lane in 2016, has set an ambitious goal of achieving zero suicides within 10 years of its inception.

She says the organization continues to work to prevent suicide.

“Last year, despite the pandemic – growing mental health issues – I am happy to say that Blue Valley, which started with us six years ago, had no teenagers lost to suicide during the last year,” Marrs said. “That’s wonderful.”

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