SV Flame of Life brings awareness to suicide prevention with family event this weekend
◆ Enjoy dinner and entertainment for every member of the family along with education and remembrance of loved ones.
Star Valley Flame of Life, in collaboration with the Lincoln County Prevention Coalition, is presenting a community event Saturday, September 10 to bring awareness to mental health challenges and suicide prevention.
Beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Unity Park in Thayne (which is south of the Thayne Community Center near the arena), those in attendance can enjoy dinner and festivities like sidewalk chalk, bounce houses, cornhole, volleyball and crafts until 7:30. People will have an opportunity to chat with neighbors, learn about resources available for mental health support and suicide prevention, glean education about supporting those considering suicide, and develop understanding of how to support those who are grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide.
To culminate the evening, everyone will be invited to participate in the Walk of Remembrance to honor loved ones that our community has lost to suicide and to experience some measure of healing.
“Star Valley Flame of Life was born of a deep desire in my soul,” Organizer, Amber Titensor, told Duke Dance on the SVI Radio Network Weekday Wake-up last week. “We lost our own son, Teagan, to suicide last September, and from the very beginning, I just felt pulled. I felt like we needed to bring more awareness. We needed to talk about it.
We needed to just make it easier to have conversations about this very heavy topic, and, you know, as I started sharing my own grief and healing journey on social media, I was shocked at the number of people who reached out who were either struggling themselves or supporting a loved one through struggles, mental health issues, suicide ideation, and people who had lost family members to suicide, and it just became a thing. I felt a call to do this, and I was put in touch with Brittany [Ritter], and she is a wonderful resource and we have just been able to run with it, and we have been able to put this event together.”
Ritter, who serves on the Lincoln County Prevention Coalition, and was also part of the radio interview, pointed out the reality that mental health challenges and suicide ideation are a continual concern among families and community members in Star Valley. “Putting aside mental health issues, I would bet that every person you come in contact with knows at least someone who has attempted or completed the act of suicide, whether they are related to them, work with them, or it’s just a friend or a friend of the family.”
Titensor and her committee have organized the event with families in mind.
“I want this to be a family event. It is a heavy subject matter, I know that. And I knew when we wanted to do this that we would need to bring some lightheartedness and just be able to make it an enjoyable evening so that people would want to come. I hope that people can find community in this.
Some of the people that have reached out to me feel like there is no support after they have lost a loved one to suicide, and you know, it’s an interesting thing, we all grieve and heal differently, so we all need different things, but I hope that there is a sense of community and togetherness that we can find in this, as hopefully, we DO heal, through the losses that we have had in our lives. Some are raw and fresh, but I can talk to people who have lost loved ones 15 years ago and it’s still just as raw and fresh as it is for me. This isn’t something that just, one day, gets better. It’s something that we just learn to live with.”
Steve Badgett, LCSW, of Teton Family Counseling in Thayne, has been invited that evening to share some insights and education with those attending. Badgett is a passionate advocate for mental health education and support, and Titensor hand-picked him because of his knowledge and her own positive experiences with him in her journey of coping with the loss of her son.
“We HAVE to talk about it,” pleaded Titensor. “We don’t talk about it, and so if people are in a place where they need to talk about it and there’s discomfort and they don’t feel well-received, that’s what we need to change. People need to be able to talk about it so we can prevent some of these tragedies.”
Ritter reminds the community that mental health can affect friends of all ages and in all walks of life.
“We know that suicide and mental health issues are not discriminatory. They do affect all ages in the spectrum. We really encourage anybody and everybody to attend this event. Along with local resources, every attendee at the event will have the opportunity to take home a booklet of all of our Lincoln County resources that we have. As part of a comprehensive plan with this event, we are having a Question, Persuade, Refer, or QPR. It is a 45 minute to one hour training that will be held on October 6 at the Thayne Community Center. It is open to anybody, and it really is a great training to provide information on warning signs – behaviors, clues, how people talk and act, and how to get them help if you know of somebody who is in mental health or suicidal crisis.”
“My real goal is that people will tell us what they need,” added Titensor in a separate conversation with SVI News. “I have already had a lot of people reaching out to tell me what they wish they had or that they have searched [for online] and things that people want or wished were available, that don’t exist yet. My hope is that I get an idea and an understanding of what people want and need and what would be helpful to the community. I feel like we need to get into schools and churches and businesses and families and everything.
Mental health and suicide ideation is something that, since I lost Teagan and I started sharing my story, I have learned more people than I never would have imagined in a million years are experiencing on some level or another, and I just think that there is such a stigma and shame and guilt and embarrassment around it that we don’t talk about it. That needs to change! We need to do something so that people can get the help that they need. And we need to learn how to love and support people that are struggling. We don’t know [how to do] that. We are not taught how to do that. We need it.”
Star Valley community members and families are all invited to attend. There will be something for everyone. Bring camp chairs and blankets if you would like. The Thayne Community Center is reserved in case of inclement weather.