KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of people gathered Sunday morning at the Garmin Headquarters in Olathe, Kansas, to walk for suicide prevention awareness.
This is the seventh year the walk has been put on by Kansas City-area nonprofit SPEAK UP, which aims to end the stigma around mental illness and suicide.
The organization was founded by two families that each lost a child to suicide in 2015: Jason Arkin and Sara Prideaux. The Arkin and Doss families say they are rising up from their loss to encourage open conversations on mental health awareness in the community.
Other families that have experienced loss due to suicide attended the walk as well, as a form of healing and to come together.
In addition to raising awareness, money was raised during the SPEAK UP walk, collecting more than $175,000 this year. The funds will support programs like Sources of Strength, a suicide prevention program in several Kansas City area school districts.
Jan Marrs, a SPEAK UP board member, who lost her daughter Lane in 2016, set an aspirational goal of reaching zero suicides within 10 years when it was created.
She says the organization continues working to prevent suicide.
"This past year, despite the pandemic — rising mental health issues — I'm happy to say Blue Valley, that started with us six years ago, had zero teens lost to suicide in this last year," Marrs said. "It feels wonderful."