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On Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022,at 10 a.m., the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Madison County will host this year’s STEPtember for Suicide Prevention Walk at Chapman Park in Bridgeport; September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Sept. 10 will mark the third annual STEPtember for Suicide Prevention Walk.

Madison County, a predominantly rural area, has one of the highest rates of suicide among New York counties. Compared to the state rate of 8.5 deaths for every 100,000 people, the suicide mortality rate in Madison County is 14.1. A single suicide loss is estimated to impact 115 people (state DOH data, 2009 through 2018). These statistics reflect a tragic loss of life and the need for prevention and postvention efforts in our community.

The STEPtember for Suicide Prevention Walk is open to anyone and everyone. Registration is open for the month of August, and participants can register starting at 9:30 a.m. the day of the event. The walk will be held rain or shine.

Participants can register as individuals or as members of a team. Those who do not wish to walk can contribute to this cause by donating or supporting a specific walker. All donations will remain local and fund suicide prevention, education and awareness initiatives.

A “reading of the names” ceremony and moment of silence is held each year at the walk in honor of loved ones lost to suicide. Community organizations will be tabling at the event with resources for the community.

“My first Suicide Prevention Walk was September 2019, three months after my husband died by suicide,” said Suicide Survivors Support Group member and walk participant Roxann Jeffers. “The stories I heard that day and the number of people there to walk was truly an eye-opener for me. I found myself looking at the beads everyone was wearing, how is this possible?

“Suicide does not discriminate; I knew at that point I wanted to become more involved to promote suicide awareness. My life has completely changed today. I am stronger because of the people I have met through the Suicide Survivors Support Group and at the walks. Not to mention my team of walkers who have continued to support me and my family. Last year, I stood up at the walk and told my story; whether it has been three years or 30 years, the grief is with you every day. The only difference is we learn to move forward and continue. Our story is not over.”

To learn more, register or donate, visit bridgesorvirtualsuicideprevent.godaddysites.com/, and visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/STEPtemberWalk.

By martha

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