It was an emotional scene as more than 100 balloons were launched into the air and people watched as they slowly drifted out of sight.
The release was part of the La Salle County Out of Darkness walk Saturday morning at Baker Lake, Peru. Dawn Moutray, director of social service at Illinois Valley Community Hospital, Peru and organizer for the event said more than 200 people had come to remember loved ones they lost to suicide and to spread the message that hope was out there.
“It’s an amazing event and a lot of people are out here to support preventing suicide,” Moutray said.
Participants were able to purchase beads and balloons to release to remember their friends and family members they lost. The colors of the items reflected the relationship they had with the one they lost.
Barb Hrovat of La Salle came out for her second year to walk in remembrance of her son, Brian Moore, who committed suicide on June 5, 2011. She said she does the walk to make people aware of suicide and depression and the support available.
“It is happening too much,” she said. “It doesn’t have to happen. There are people to talk to.”
“We are here to support each other and know we are not alone,” said Moutray in her opening speech before the walk. “There is hope.”
Moutray went on to talk about losing her brother four years ago to suicide. Four other speakers shared their personal stories with suicide. Erica Marks, a representative from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention talked about losing her sister. She said it was not an easy subject to talk about, but it is a conversation that needs to be started today.
The final speaker was a young woman who was able move forward with her life following a failed suicide attempt and has learned to live with her bipolar disease. Following the speeches, the participants walked around Baker Lake.
The event collected close to $7,000 which exceeded the original goal of $5,000. The money will go to the AFSP which offers suicide support services and research to prevent it.
Organizers for the event were Illinois Valley Community Hospital and North Central Behavioral Health Systems/Health Directions. Sponsors were Miller Group Media, Illinois Valley Community Hospital, St. Francis Medial Center and St. Margaret’s Hospital.
Alicia LeGrand-Riniker can be reached at (815) 220-6931 or email@example.com