Group targets suicide awareness

Members of the Benewah County chapter of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Network want to start an annual memorial walk in September. The group hopes to coordinate with other SPAN chapters in north Idaho to have their walks on the same weekend. Pictured left to right: Kristi Scott, Debby Smith, Dennis Humphrey, Boni Schueller and Amanda Beckner.

The Benewah chapter of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Network (SPAN) plans to have its first memorial walk this year.

The local SPAN group formed late last year and the walk is the group's first big project that they hope to host in September, which is suicide awareness month. The group plans to name the event the “Be the Light” walk.

SPAN members Kristi Scott and Amanda Beckner said that the group hopes to bring awareness to mental health issues that are present in the county.

“There has been a lot of suicide in Benewah County and we are trying to bring awareness to it,” Ms. Beckner said.

“Our big overall goal is to remove the stigma around mental health,” Ms. Scott added. “It's something that needs to be talked about. We shouldn't be afraid to talk about it because if we are open and the community gathers around each other we can remove the stigma.”

The group wants the event to be free and open to everyone, and they hope to get everyone in the community involved. She said that the group has worked with groups around the county including Benewah Community Hospital, Marimn Health, and the Panhandle Health District.

Right now the local SPAN group wants submissions from local artists for a t-shirt design to commemorate the walk. Ms. Scott said that they want to get local high school students involved on the day of the walk. They want to get help from the high school band and wrestling team.

Ms. Scott said that the group got the inspiration to start a local walk from the SPAN network in Coeur d'Alene who hosts a memorial walk every year.

The group has yet to nail down a date for the walk, but Ms. Scott said that they hope to have it confirmed soon. She said that she hopes to coordinate with the other counties in the Panhandle district to have all of their walks on the same day.

“We are hoping to have a district wide suicide prevention day,” Ms. Scott said. “We want to try to get all five counties to have their walk on the same day.”

Those who want to learn more about the memorial walk or those who would like to join the local SPAN group can catch one of their monthly meetings.

The group meets on the second Tuesday of every month at Benewah Community Hospital in the Francie Walters conference room.

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