Suicide awareness walk joins families together

By Aubrey Turnery
For the Prosper Press

Walk offers COVID -safe celebration of live

In recent years, Prosper residents have spoken out about their personal relationships with loved ones who have died by suicide.

The annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk took place on Saturday, November 7th at Windsong Ranch in Prosper.  This event, organized by Wendy Tyler, allows family and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide, to gather together and remember their loved one.  The event includes a Remembrance Wall, a selection of Honor Beads, and a 5k walk and fundraiser. 

This year, the walk raised over $33,000 for suicide research, prevention, and education.  This walk, supported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, offers a bittersweet combination of upbeat loud music and places for remembrance and mourning. 

A group of chaplains stood near the entrance of the walk.  “We are here to provide support for people if they need it,” Linda Harris said.  “It can be an emotional time for people.  People can be feeling sad, but also happy to be talking about the loved one they lost.  Some people come out as a support to the families.  We offer a safe place for people to talk to us about whatever they would like.  We want to just listen and offer support in that way.”  

LaShonda Stanberry walked in remembrance of her daughter, who died by suicide in 2019.  “My daughter felt that life was too much for her and took her life in April 2019,” Stanberry said.  “She left a three month old baby and a two year old.  I walked in this last year, and want to continue this year.  I am raising my grandbabies and I walk for them.” 

“I feel full of faith,” Stanberry said.  “I am sad that she left us the way that she did, but she is whole now and at peace.  She left us these boys and we are going to make sure that she continues to live through them.  My faith is what powers me through.  It helps me walk here today.  We miss my daughter, of course, but we will be alright because of our faith.”  

The HOPE Squad from Prosper ISD also attended the walk.  This Utah-based group, was adopted by Prosper ISD in 2019 after four students took their life by suicide.  The group focuses on candid talks about mental health and suicide and is visible in the schools and the community. 

Brooklynn Houston is part of the HOPE Squad.  “I am twelve and a middle school student ,” Houston said. “We are here as a suicide prevention squad.  Today we were here to raise awareness about suicide prevention.  When we walk, we are showing people that self care is important.  We want people to get out and move, and walking can make you feel better.  We want people to remember that self care is important.” 

“The person that started this walk lost her son to suicide,” Houston said.  “She started this so that other children would not feel so hopeless and commit suicide.  It is important that the community come together and do these walks so that we can remind people that they are not alone.  It is ok to talk about depression and mental health.  That is important.  There are people around you that care about you.”