Students host Suicide Awareness Walk
By PAMELA GRANT
“Let’s take a minute and save a life,” encouraged Nicholas Hollingsworth, a CCHS DECA officer and event co-host.
More than 100 lights shone brightly in the darkness Saturday night as dozens took just a few minutes of their time to make a difference and symbolically represent the light in the darkness.
Approximately 130 people participated in the 4th Annual Teen Suicide Awareness and Prevention Candlelight Walk Saturday night starting at 8 p.m. at South Park.
All of the event’s participants were reminded throughout the event to maintain social distancing and to keep their face coverings in place.
The event was hosted by both Copperas Cove High School DECA students and the Copperas Cove Miss Five Hill Scholarship Program. The event was organized by Nicholas Hollingsworth, Lexi Butler, and Skilynn Hughes.
“On average, 132 people took their own lives today, feeling that there was no hope, and no one cared or understood their suffering,” said Hollingsworth before the start of the candlelight walk. “Suicide rates in teens and young adults have been skyrocketing in the past decade and now suicide is the leading cause of death in Americans ages 10-34, and that’s why we’re all here tonight.”
Individuals participating in the walk were encouraged to walk with flashlights or electric candles and some used their cellphones to light the way. In addition to the lighted walk, participants could hang a symbolic butterfly on a Tree of Hope to help remember those lost to suicide or someone weighing on one’s mind.
Throughout the night, counselors were available for anyone who might want someone to talk to.
Hollingsworth said that helping host the event was particularly important to him because his sister attempted to commit suicide about three years ago.
“It’s really important for me to let people know that there’s hope and that you can always share your story. You always have someone to talk to. You should never feel like you’re alone. You’re never truly alone,” said Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth said that nobody in his family recognized the signs in his sister, so it’s especially important for him to let as many people as possible know that there is hope and to raise awareness about signs to look out for.
Those signs include things like getting rid of personal items, isolating, mood changes, and random outbursts. He added that it’s important to check on people, even if they aren’t showing any signs.
“It’s kind of a taboo subject, but we need to move away from that and make it something we can talk about,” said Lexi Butler, one of the event hosts, about the importance of being able to talk about suicide. “People need to be able to reach out and seek guidance…We need to show support for those who are struggling.”
Russel Cochran, President of CCHS DECA, said that it was even more important this year for DECA to support the suicide awareness and prevention walk because COVID-19 has left a lot of people feeling isolated and alone, and it was important for him to make sure that everyone, especially his fellow CCHS students know that they are not alone and that there are people there for them. DECA began their “Start with Hello” week Saturday. They encourage everyone to just say hello; take a minute of their time and possibly make a difference.
“I just want people to know that they can get that help that they need before they feel too hopeless and they feel that they need to take their life,” said Emma MacDonald, Vice President of CCHS DECA. MacDonald said that she has personally lost family members to suicide and that depression runs in her family. She said that it’s important to her to raise awareness. “We really want people to know that it’s ok…You’re not alone. Someone is there for you.”