The text came in – a family was in need of support after losing their child to suicide. How could this family go on to celebrate Thanksgiving or any holiday for years to come? Losing someone to suicide is often a lifelong sentence to a heavy mix of emotion, tragedy, questions of why, explanations, avoidance, and heartache. And yet it happens to nearly 1,500 families across Arizona every year.
Add to that the social isolation through the pandemic, and we face great challenges with mental health and supporting those in need. The 16th Annual Memorial Walk/Run is a place where families and individuals can mourn the loss of their loved ones. It’s also a place where they can find comfort in the growing community that becomes a reminder of not being alone in the tragedy of the loss.
And you can see it in plain sight. Over the years, families and friend groups have shown up wearing pictures of the loved ones they lost on their shirts. Some so young. Others in the prime of their lives. Every story different. All still fresh with the loss.
Eight people a day across Arizona feel such a great loss of hope that they will attempt to take their lives.
Statistics from 2019 show that more than 1,400 Arizona residents die each year by suicide. More than 45,000 people died in 2020 across the country. It’s the 11th leading cause of death and the 2nd leading cause of death for youth and young adults.
Arizona’s rate of suicide in 2019 was 36% higher than the national average.
The Memorial Walk/Run is an annual gathering at Tempe’s Kiwanis Park at the Ruben Romero Ramada starting at 8am with a special ceremony allowing for remembering and honoring those lost, and allowing participants to share their personal stories.
The walk was started by two people who both suffered tragic losses and met in a counseling session put on by EMPACT SPC, a nonprofit that supports people in the Phoenix metro region. Wanting to remember their son, and their sister, the Jeremyah Memorial Walk was established and will mark its 16th year on February 5th.
Date: Saturday, February 5, 2022
7am – Registration and Refreshments
8am – Ceremony; walk to follow
Location: Kiwanis Park/Ruben Romero Corporate Ramada
6111 S. All American Way, Tempe, AZ
Register online or onsite: http://empactsos.org/2022-jeremyah-memorial-5k-registration-form/
All participants are encouraged (but not required) to make a donation. Family/friends can make donations in honor of their loved one. Donations can be made at the event or can be made in advance a www.empactsos.org Click on the “Donate” button at the bottom of the page and designate the “SOS Walk” for your contribution.
Bagels will not be served this year. Instead water and sealed snacks will be offered. Starbucks will be serving coffee to participants.
Anyone recently exposed to COVID-19 or experiencing any symptoms is asked to not attend the event for the safety of others.