ENTERPRISE — The Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness recognized Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — which annually falls in September — by shedding light on the issue.
The center held a luminary vigil on Thursday, Sept. 30, the final day of the awareness month, by placing hundreds of lit bags — many of them decorated — on the lawn and walkways in front of the Wallowa County Courthouse in Enterprise.
Tosca Rawls, WVCW public relations and development director, said the vigil was moving.
“It was powerful. People were emotional,” she said. “... We want to give people the opportunity to come, remember and be supported.”
The vigil was one of many held across the country to bring awareness to suicide prevention, Rawls said, and to provide a support outlet to those in the community impacted by suicide.
“There’s been a couple here in the last six months. That has really rocked this community and been hard on the community,” she said. “We really wanted to give people an opportunity to come together and not only recognize those who have been lost but also find hope and support in coming together.”
WVCW placed bags through the community during September and encouraged people to decorate the bags — perhaps in a manner of remembrance or support — and to come to the vigil, especially of they had dealt with a loss through suicide.
The messaging for the event, Rawls said, was “together, we can prevent suicide.” She noted that aligns with national messaging from the National Association on Mental Illness.
Part of the message, too, she said, was “letting people know that nobody’s alone, that we’re all in this together.”
In all, about 100 of the 500 bags were decorated, many with words of support or with art. Rawls said, though, that the center placed all 500 at the courthouse for the vigil.
“We just put all of them out because we thought it would be more powerful, have more lighting,” she said.
The sidewalk in front of the courthouse, she added, was pretty full with people as the event reached its 7 p.m. kickoff.
“It was pretty quiet and somber,” she said. “We really let people go at their own pace, do their own thing. There wasn’t anything formal. “(Show up and remember), and support each other.”
She added it was the first time doing the event, but there are no plans on it being the last.
“We plan to make this an annual event during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month,” she said.