HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Suicide claims one life every 11 minutes according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dee Pitts was one of those lives, but her legacy lives on in her daughter, Dr. Cubeon Washington. After losing her mom in 2010, Washington feels motivated now more than ever to establish the freedom walk.
The conversation surrounding mental health and suicide awareness continues to grow nationwide, but there is still work to do.
“Not everybody is born with the innate ability to know what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed emotionally,” Washington said, “When it feels like your life is crashing down all around you, not everybody knows how to handle that.”
Washington’s passion for mental health is clear to see, but her main purpose in starting the Freedom Walk is to honor her mother’s life by helping others know that they are not alone.
“She was such a wonderful person,” she said with tears in her eyes, “So many people miss her, and it’s just my life purpose now to help as many people as possible to not have to feel the pain that I’ve had to feel with losing my best friend.”
The inaugural Freedom Walk was held at Dr. Robert Shurney Legacy Center Park on Saturday afternoon.
The park was dressed in tents, bouncy slides and guest speakers.
Many strolled down the sidewalk talking with different groups, like the Veteran Center of Huntsville and the Crisis Services of North Alabama, about the stigma surrounding mental health and outlets people can lean on in times of need.
And it’s an issue that knows no bias, it affects us all.
“In the Black community, we have a stigma of anti any type of mental support,” Cydale Smith, a Huntsville native who participated at the walk, said. “I think it goes back in terms of our cultures and generations even talking to older people about issues like with slavery.”
Dr. Washington is hopeful that the Freedom Walk will become an annual event in the community.