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Annual walk builds support, awareness of suicide prevention

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Thursday, September 28, 2023   

New Hampshire's largest mental health awareness event takes place this weekend and organizers said it is a chance to remind lawmakers mental health care matters.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found nearly 50,000 Americans died by suicide in 2022, the highest number on record.

Susan Stearns, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-New Hampshire, said people are increasingly willing to talk about suicide and ask for help.

"When you have that trouble holding on to hope when things seem really dark, we have other folks who have walked that walk and have experienced that journey," Stearns pointed out. "You really are not alone even though it can feel very isolating."

The annual walk takes place this Sunday in Concord and people can register at the event or online. Stearns added people can participate virtually and send photos for the alliance to share on social media.

Advocates for mental health care say families impacted by suicide who shared their experiences with lawmakers helped create a "historic" bipartisan state budget with significant investments in community mental health care systems.

Stearns hopes the annual walk keeps mental health front and center for the next legislative session, and encouraged lawmakers to do even more.

"It's a real visibility opportunity for our policymakers to see that mental health matters to Granite Staters," Stearns emphasized.

Stearns noted the annual walk is a great place to build community, but reminded people regardless of whether they walk, help with a mental health crisis is always available by calling the New Hampshire Rapid Response hotline at 833-710-6477.


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