‘Walk Into the Light’ to be held in downtown Marksville Saturday
Sometimes we forget there are those so overwhelmed by life’s troubles that they believe the only way to end the pain is to end their life. This parish was recently reminded of that sad fact.
This Saturday (Oct. 27) the suicide prevention non-profit SaveCenla will hold its annual 5K “Walk Into the Light” in downtown Marksville.
SaveCenla co-founder Angela Dixon said the annual event is intended to “make people feel safe to seek help; that they do not have to suffer in silence.
“We want to lift the stigma of mental illness and encourage people to take a stand to make Avoyelles Parish a suicide-safer community by training and becoming more knowledgeable about mental illness and suicide prevention,” she added.
The event will begin at the courthouse at 9 a.m. with special speakers. The walk will step off at 10 a.m.
Registration is free, but businesses are encouraged to sponsor a team and make a donation to support SaveCenla’s efforts to raise awareness of suicide and mental illness and its educational programs to train others in assisting potential suicide victims and those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Advance registration is recommended. Day-of-event registration and check-in of pre-registered teams will be at 8 a.m. in the Marksville Fire Department Annex (City Council meeting room). All participants must check-in prior to the walk. The event will also feature a balloon launch to give friends and family members an opportunity to honor loved ones lost to suicide.
Family members are asked to bring a photo of a loved one lost to suicide to be displayed on the Memory Board at the event.
Speakers will include Dr. Michael Decaire of the Central Louisiana Human Services District, Avoyelles School District Superintendent Blaine Dauzat and pharmacist Kim Wixson.
The National Guard Youth Challenge cadets from Camp Beauregard will be on hand to help with the event and to lead the awareness walk.
A photographer will take “team photos.”
There will also be a bouncy house for children, face painting and door prizes during the event.
Vendors will set up around Courthouse Square to provide food, beverages and other items for sale. SaveCenla will also draw the winners of its $5,000 Vacation Raffle. Tickets cost $100 each, but only 150 were printed. Some tickets are still available.
The winner will be able to choose from a Disney World vacation for four, a trip to Hawaii for two or a Memorial Day weekend vacation to the Indianapolis 500 for two.
There will be an auction for a “Night at the Casino” package, donated by Paragon Casino Resort.
SaveCenla co-founder Andy Dixon said 100 percent of the money raised “will stay in Central Louisiana to promote mental health awareness and suicide prevention.”
AVOYELLES SUICIDE RATE
Avoyelles has had a consistently high suicide rate over the past several years. So far this year there have been 12 confirmed suicides -- a rate of 28.8 per 100,000, Coroner Dr. L.J. Mayeux said.
The suicide rate is based on suicides per 100,000 population. With a population of 42,000, each suicide in Avoyelles is counted as 2.4 to get the per-100,000 rate. The state’s rate is 15.5 and the nation’s is 13.0.
“Unfortunately, this year’s number of suicides is higher than our average for the last five years,” he noted, adding that there are still over two months -- which include the high suicide-risk holidays.
There were 10 suicides -- a 24.0 rate -- last year.
“I have to say events like the ‘Walk Into the Light’ and other awareness efforts have helped,” Mayeux said. “People are coming in and seeking help.
“I just have to wonder what the suicide rate would be with those efforts.”
In a related matter, SaveCenla will be conducting four two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshops in the coming months.
The workshop is a $300 value per person, but is being offered free of charge to those who commit to completing the two-day course, Angela Dixon said.
The upcoming ASIST workshops will be at Bunkie General Hospital from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 16-17; Central Louisiana Hospital in Pineville on Dec. 7-8; at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Dupont on Jan. 2-3; and at the Hampton Inn in Marksville on Feb. 1-2.
For more information or to register for the 5K walk or ASIST workshop, call Andy Dixon at 337-288-0973, Angela Dixon at 337-519-1888, Jackie Bordelon at 318-419-0620 or Anthony Bordelon at 318-359-9681.