PITTSBURG — Thousands upon thousands of lives are lost by suicide each year.
Karen Gorentz lost her son Ryan to suicide, four-year-old June Lawler lost her uncle Brandon and Andrea Kratochvil almost lost her own life.
Kratochvil said she believes she was given a second chance in life and now, she is “helping people get through their own troubles,” by raising awareness about suicide prevention through a Pittsburg State University student organization To Write Love on Her Arms - U Chapter, partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk.
She, and Walk Coordinator Caitlin Martin and several other PSU students hosted the event to give bring people together and share stories about hope.
On average, one person dies by suicide approximately every 18 hours in the state of Kansas and suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the state and in the United States.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention over 40,000 people die by suicide and for each suicide there are 25 attempted.
This year, the walk brought together a record number of people, with over 140 attendees and over $10,000 raised.
The monies raised will be put back into the community for mental health resources and nationally for research on suicide, AFSP Chairperson Barbara Mares said.
She described the amount of growth in the organization and number of people supporting suicide prevention as overwhelming, she said.
“It’s bittersweet that we started at 22 counties and now we are across the whole state,” Mares said.
Two fundraising teams Hannah Kent and Gorentz’s were recognized for both of their team’s efforts in reaching over $1,000 each.
Gorentz, whose group was called team “Beach” raised over $3,000. She recently lost her son Ryan Beachner who struggled with depression, she said.
She wore her son’s signature on her necklace, which reads “Beach,” — his nickname — along with the white beads — which signify the loss of a child to suicide — provided at the event. Other colors tell other tales of loss.
Many other families walked around wearing colored necklaces, red representing the loss of a spouse or partner, gold, a parent, orange, a sibling, purple, relative or friend, silver, first responder or military, green, a personal struggle or attempt and teal, knowing someone who is struggling or has attempted suicide and lastly almost everyone was wearing blue, which symbolizes supporting suicide prevention.
The event not only raised awareness and funds for suicide prevention, but also brought in mental health resources available in the community.
Crawford County Mental Health Center was there to let people know about various mental health resources and its hotline 620-232-SAVE for people who are in urgent need of someone to talk to.
CCMHC representative Heather Spaur applauded the organizations for their efforts in bringing the community together and raise awareness for mental health.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.