Written by Jesenia Hernandez, Communications Manager
September was National Suicide Prevention Month — a time to raise awareness on this stigmatized and often taboo subject.
On Wednesday, September 28th the Tierra Vida afterschool program students hosted a suicide awareness and prevention walk. This year Broetje Family Trust wanted to go deeper than sharing a newsletter and to get more people involved, calling on young adults and youth to be front and center of this growing issue amongst their generation.
Together the group gathered in front of the Collegium Café along with familiar faces from Vista Hermosa Community. The students wanted to march through the apartment complex, so the adults followed their lead as they played uplifting music through the neighborhood and held signs with positive messages like “God loves you” and “You can scream, shout but don‘t give up”, as well as facts like “Every 11 minutes someone dies by suicide”.
As they reached A street, a young boy holding the sign with the 11-minute fact turned to an adult and said, “Miss that’s a lot of people that die by suicide.”
“Yes, it is. What do you think we should do about it?” she asked. He responded, “Well I think we should let everyone know they are loved.”
“That’s a great idea,” she encouraged him as they continued walking.
Royale, a student ambassador of Tierra Vida, also shared his thoughts on suicide prevention. Holding a sign reading, “In 2020 over 48,000 people died by suicide in the United States” he said, “As someone who has dealt with suicide, it feels both good and bad to not be a part of that number. It’s sad that it is so high and continues to grow.” Royale passionately shared that suicide prevention month shouldn’t only be one month out of the year, but every month, including October.
It was touching to see so many young people, on what was the first march for many of them, advocating for suicide prevention. In a video testimony shared in last month’s newsletter, young adults advocated for community, people seeing deep into one another’s pain and suffering, and speaking out loudly about prevention and resources. Even through the pain behind this sensitive issue, the group came together with an immense amount of joy in taking action. They hold power and influence as a community that is not afraid to talk about suicide.
As the sun set, Jermaine Broetje closed the group in prayer, calling on youth to seek help and support when they need someone to talk to. A patch of light shone through the clouds and onto the group, as if all of the people they lost to suicide were looking down on them. The past cannot be changed, but lives can be saved in the future.
If you or someone you know is struggling, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at ‘988’. Help is available 24/7. For resources on suicide prevention, visit: https://988lifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/.
For more photos of the walk click here.
Tierra Vida is a neighborhood of Broetje Family Trust, which stewards a family legacy of “bearing fruit that will last” through servant leadership, community building, and philanthropy.