HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and many people are finding ways to come together and help those who are struggling. In Huntsville, Healing Steps Labyrinth partnered with Crisis Services of North Alabama and other local organizations to offer suicide prevention resources and provide a space of remembrance and healing for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
“By doing this, we let folks know they’re not alone,” said event organizer Ricky Browning.
According to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, 804 Alabamians died by suicide in 2019. The rate rose 16.4% from the year before.
“Suicide is not an issue that happens in isolation,” Browning said. “It’s a public health concern, but it also affects our families and communities.”
Healing Steps, a Huntsville-based nonprofit, built a public labyrinth.
“All you have to do is follow the same path out that you took in,” said event organizer Katie Sanders. “It’s a metaphor for the walk of all of our lives.”
Sanders said the labyrinth has meditative and healing properties.
“It is used for reconciliation, it is used for forgiveness and self-forgiveness for all of it,” Sanders said. “It’s a very powerful tool.”
On Saturday, Healing Steps hosted a vigil where community members impacted by suicide could share their stories, walk the labyrinth, and remember their loved ones.
“There are going to be times in all of our lives that we all have difficulty, but just remember that you’re not alone, that there is help, and that there are people that care about you, and please don’t push them away,” said Browning. “Because in isolation is when the darkness comes.”
In July, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline transitioned from a 10-digit phone number to a three-digit number. If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, dial 988. The hotline is available 24/7 and you can call or text the number for help.