PORT ANGELES — A community gathering to spread suicide awareness is planned for World Suicide Prevention Day in Port Angeles next week.
The gathering, which has the goal of spreading awareness and encouraging conversations about suicide, will happen at Veterans Memorial Park, 217 S. Lincoln St., in Port Angeles at 6 p.m Monday.
Brianna Kelly, one of the event’s organizers, said participants are encouraged to bring signs to carry. Those signs can be memorials to loved ones lost to suicide, inspirational messages to anyone struggling or other messages.
“Suicide has hit our county hard in recent years and we all need to come together and find solutions,” she said. “This event is meant to get people talking about solutions.”
Kelly likened the event to a vigil or memorial. She said there will be multiple speakers, including survivors, people who have lost family members to suicide and first responders.
Kelly said she reached out to multiple police and fire departments in hopes of getting at least one response, but found support from each of the departments she reached out to. She said city and county officials also showed support.
The gathering is the only event in Washington state that is registered with the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
Kelly, Jessica Guthrie, Reagan Mead, Rick Raymond and others first started planning the event last month and were surprised when they learned theirs was the only World Suicide Prevention Day event scheduled in Washington state, Kelly said.
“We were Googling to see what we could do this winter before the holidays and it came up that there was a World Suicide Prevention Day,” she said. “Nobody in our area had signed up.”
Information on suicide and resource materials will be available at the event.
A sign-making event is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 110 E. Seventh St., in Port Angeles.
Suicides this year in Clallam and Jefferson counties are on track to outpace the number of suicides last year. Though the number of suicides vary each year, Clallam County has seen an upward trend throughout the past 10 years, according to data from the Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office.
There are on average 123 suicides per day across the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The suicide rate in Washington in 2016 was 14.83 suicides per 100,000 people, greater than the national average of 13.42.
Last year there were 23 suicides in Clallam County, according to the Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Last year there were 11 suicides in Jefferson County.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].