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Suicide-awareness walk to be held in Potsdam

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POTSDAM - The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that 1 million people in the nation make a suicide attempt each year.

North country community members who would like to change that aim to spread suicide awareness at two upcoming Out of Darkness walks in Potsdam and Watertown.

Gena C. Nelson, co-captain of the Potsdam walk, said a focus of the St. Lawrence County Suicide Awareness Coalition has been in the Massena area.

“We’ve had quite a few losses due to suicide there in the past year,” Mrs. Nelson said Tuesday.

Mrs. Nelson, administrative director of SUNY Potsdam’s counseling center, said the entire county rallies around the awareness effort and has surpassed the $8,500 fundraising goal. Thus far, more than $9,700 has been raised and more than 200 people have preregistered for the walk. She said she expects more than $10,000 will be collected by Saturday’s event.

The Potsdam walk will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at SUNY Potsdam’s Barrington Student Union, Barrington Drive. Parking will be available in Lot 20.

To pre-register for the walk, call Mrs. Nelson at 267-2330. Online registration closes at noon Friday, but people who would like to participate may register in person at the walk.

Donations will be accepted until Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, just over $5,500 has been raised for the awareness walk in Watertown, which will take place at noon Sept. 29 at the Thompson Park pavilion. The overall goal is $15,000, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website. As of Tuesday, about 100 people had preregistered.

“We just want to get information out there to let people know that they’re not alone,” Ms. Mills said Tuesday.

“It’s an area for healing, whatever steps they’re at in their healing.”

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website, these and similar walks take place in hundreds of communities throughout the nation, with proceeds going to the foundation.

Mrs. Nelson said that when people from the north country want to offer special training workshops for teachers, students or physicians, they can contact the foundation, which then provides the training that people here are looking for.

At the Potsdam walk, there will be foundation information, and a table will be set up by a local chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness. On display will be five quilts made by survivors of suicide attempts.

A small percentage of funds raised goes to local committees.

For more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or suicide risks and factors, visit the foundation website at www.afsp.org.

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