Eau Claire (WQOW) – 500 locals gathered for a walk to shine light on the suicide epidemic in the Chippewa Valley.
“It’s a huge concern in our community,” said Brenda Goettl of Chippewa Falls. “And I really think that we just need to be able to give people hope. And know that there are people who will listen and people who care.”
The Sharing Hope Walk to Prevent Suicide was held Saturday morning at Carson Park. In past years, the walk gave proceeds to national suicide organizations. But now, two Chippewa Valley groups, Prevent Suicide and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, are making sure all funds stay local.
Organizers expect to raise more than $18,000. The event was filled with hopeful messages and suicide prevention resources. But the primary mission of the walk was to get people talking.
“The ability to talk about the issue and to raise awareness is so imperative to preventing it,” said Karlene Phillips, president of Prevent Suicide Chippewa Valley. “Because if you can’t have that conversation, you can’t help somebody not act on it.”
Team Donovan, has been raising awareness of suicide for nine years. That’s when Roxie Kalish lost her son to suicide.
“We’re very blessed that we can come here today, to share all of this, with all of you,” said Kalish.
The mile-long walk focused on reflection. The start line began on a pathway aligned with shoes. The shoes represent Eau Claire, Dunn and Chippewa County suicides in the last five years. There were 174 pairs. Some of the shoes stood for people as young as 15 and as old as 89.
If you or someone you know is looking for resources, see the links below.