New event focuses on suicide prevention

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BENNINGTON — United Counseling Service and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center are leading a community-wide charge to spread awareness about suicide prevention at a new event: "Walk and Talk for Suicide Prevention Awareness." The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 at the pavilion of the Vermont Veterans' Home at 325 North St. in Bennington.

"Suicide is a risk for so many, especially veterans and teens," Alya Reeve, MD, medical director for UCS. said in a media release. "We want to bring the topic out in to the open and spread the message that help is here."

The aim of this event is to draw the community together in a show of support for those who are struggling, share the signs that someone close to you is considering suicide, and provide helpful information about what to do.

The event will kick off with resources, refreshments, and brief inspirational remarks before the walk itself, which is about 2 miles long. All are welcome to participate in all or a portion of the walk. The walk will go across the Veterans' Home campus turn south on Park Street, east on County Street, and north on North Branch before returning west via a nature trail that follows the Roaring Branch Walloomsac Brook back to the Veterans' Home.

"The route encircles the Veterans' Home and the Mount Anthony Union High School," Reeve said. "We hope our message of help and hope reach the veterans, students, and the entire community. You are not alone."

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. In addition to UCS, SVMC, and the Vermont Veteran's Home, participating organizations include the Alliance for Community Transformations, Bennington Police Department, Bennington Rescue Squad, the Bennington Sheriff's Department, and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center. Additional participation from area organizations is welcome.

The event is free. No registration is necessary. Free refreshments will be served. Support for the event is provided through Charlie's Fund and the Gregory S. Hillman Fund, both of UCS.

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