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Vigil to bring awareness and remember victims of suicide

Individuals affected by suicide and depression as well as other concerned community members
participate in a candlelight vigil, remembering the lives lost to suicide and depression and
reaching out to those affected by these tragedies.

Originally published: Nov. 14, 2012
Last modified: Nov. 14, 2012

Heather Canter

Efforts to reach out to survivors of suicide and to honor the memory of suicide victims continue in the area as the holiday season approaches.

Beginning at 5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 18, the Fifth Annual Candlelight Vigil will be sponsored by the Ashe Suicide/ Depression Awareness and Prevention Task Force (ASAP).

"The experience of coping with a loss by suicide can be devastating to those left behind,” said CarolAnn Baker, a member of ASAP. “Bringing together a group of survivors, be they friends, family, or concerned citizens, can help in the healing process. There are few opportunities for survivors to speak personally about their losses. Knowing that others care can bring strength and hope to those who are suffering."

A program of remembrance will be held in the courthouse rotunda, prior to the vigil. ASAP members, concerned community members as well as survivors of loss by suicide are invited to share in the program. Featured will be music by Martin Little and Larry Parker as well as a time for sharing.

Family and friends of those lost to suicide are invited to bring photos or other mementos to be displayed on the Table of Remembrance during the service.

During the vigil, a roll call of names of those lost to suicide will be called and candles will be lit in their memories. Organizers of the event want the program to acknowledge the ongoing consequences of untreated depression in order to further the awareness of Ashe County citizens to the importance of suicide prevention.

ASAP's vision is to end suicide in Ashe County and to educate the community about strategies to reach out to those in need of resources.

“One of the main obstacles to seeking help is that many feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, or that to be depressed is a personal failing,” Baker said. “We know that clinical depression is a treatable illness and mental health resources are out there and can make a difference.

“Unfortunately, we have too often learned these lessons too late to make that difference,” she continued. “Many go without the necessary support to address their feelings of despair and hopelessness. The annual vigil is an attempt to send these messages in a very public way and to declare that they matter enough to stand together in support of those in need.”

Prior to the program and vigil, there will be time to for attendees to enjoy fellowship and refreshments. Individuals should register by 4:30 p.m. for the program.

Co-chairs of ASAP, Sherry Goodman and Phillip Cole, in addition to ASAP members Walt Peterson and assistant profession at ASU, Dr. J.P. Jameson, are scheduled to participate in the program.


About ASAP

ASAP is a group of individuals in Ashe County who come together monthly to learn more about depression and suicide and to educate ordinary citizens to the risk factors and consequences of both.

According to ASAP, Ashe has had the highest incidence of suicide in North Carolina in past years.

“Unfortunately, this legacy continues,” Baker said. “This is not just a personal or family problem, it is a public health problem. Seeking solutions through education and connecting individuals and families with needed resources is what we are working toward. We hold several events during the year to carry out our work and have presented a variety of programs on depression and suicide to community groups".

For more information about the vigil or ASAP, contact Patty Faw at (336) 846-0781.


For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.