ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) — Under the burgeoning Fall colors that surround The Al Quall Recreation area in Ishpeming, a small army of well-intentioned citizens gathered in the name of suicide prevention.

The Marquette County “Walk for Hope” held its annual fundraising walk Sunday. The event, which is put on by The Marquette County Suicide Prevention Alliance and the Marquette County Health Department seeks to educate people about suicide, remove the stigma surrounding this often misunderstood tragedy, and raise dollars to support a wide variety of programs aimed at ending suicide. Health educator Sarah Derwin, of the Marquette Health Department says there are countless ways to help prevent suicide.

“Doing things like this is lowering the stigma of suicide of talking about suicide, it’s bringing awareness to some things that we can do as a community. We can offer training, we can work with our schools a little bit more, we can work on protective factors that can prevent suicide, and we can also provide a lot of resources for people who have lost someone to suicide and who are struggling. So, I think we can always do more. And what I find with these types of events is it brings our community together to show that there’s a lot of people that are working on this cause.” Said Derwin.

On hand to set the tone for this serious cause were the Teal Lake Singers, a native American drum circle group made up of members across Marquette County.

Local Three is in its second year of supporting The Walk for Hope. Helping out were Meteorologist Audry Pentecost and our news anchor, Rebecca Bartelme.

“Oh yeah, we’re out here today. We’ve been doing this for two years now coming out to this walk. And I think it’s a great way to show people that they support people with mental illness and that they’re here to help and provide resources to them. And suicide prevention is huge. And, you know, there’s always been a stigma around it, but to have people out here, showing that they support suicide prevention is amazing.” 

Thanks to events like this one, The Marquette County Suicide Prevention Alliance raises more than $7,000 annually in its battle against suicide.

Where do the funds go? Derwin says “they stay in Marquette County and that’s something that I think is really important to people that are giving. So, a lot of the funds we put them right back, we give them right back to organizations that are working on suicide prevention or post-vention initiatives or projects.”