Second Annual SPARC Walk to promote suicide awareness

Suicide Prevention Across Rush County (SPARC) will host its Second Annual Suicide Prevention Walk from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22 at Riverside Park Amphitheater.

Registration for the event will begin at 1 p.m. The walk is free to participants.

“According to 2016-2017 data from the Center for Disease Control, Rush County is among two Indiana counties with the highest prevalence of suicide,” Rehabilitation Specialist with Centerstone Kelly Sizemore said. “In fact, Rush County’s suicide is rate is more than twice that of Indiana’s rate state wide. Rush County men are dying by suicide at higher numbers than Rush County women across all age levels, with men between the ages of 19 and 49 years old being the most prevalent. Of suicides in Rush County, intimate partner problems are among the most common suicide circumstances.”

Registration for the Suicide Prevention Walk can be completed online at the Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation website by selecting the SPARC option under the Funds heading.

SPARC is seeking sponsorship for the event. Donations of any amount are helpful.

Individuals and organizations wishing to sponsor the event can donate online through the Rush Memorial Foundation website ( by specifying Sponsor-SPARC Fund in the memo field.

Checks may be made payable to the Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation with a memo designation for Sponsor-SPARC Fund. The Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation’s address is PO Box 215, Rushville, IN 46173.

All funds raised will only be used by SPARC for suicide prevention purposes.

This year’s event will feature food trucks, live music by Zach Comer, a silent auction and a bead ceremony with free bead necklaces. Individuals and teams or families are invited to set up booths on the lawn.

The bead ceremony will incorporate different colors to recognize different types of suicide experiences, including the loss of a child, loss of a sibling, personal struggle, loss of a spouse or partner, loss of a relative or friend, supporting someone who struggles or has attempted, loss of a parent, loss of a first responder/military and general support for suicide prevention.

“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention first brought their Out of the Darkness Walk to Rushville thanks to the efforts of Rushville native and attempt survivor, Drew Hahn,” Sizemore said. “As support for Drew’s movement grew, Rush Memorial Hospital and other community supporters began to realize a need for Rush County to have its own community coalition for suicide prevention. As a result, Suicide Prevention Across Rush County (SPARC) formed in 2017. SPARC has accepted responsibility for the annual event so that funds raised are kept local, to be used for suicide prevention in this community.”

SPARC activities include the support of a local high school group called Youth Voice. The group coordinates suicide awareness events and informational meetings on mental health topics for youth.

SPARC is also in the planning stages of creating professionally staffed support groups in Rush County for those impacted by suicide loss, attempts or ideation. These support groups will require ongoing financial support, which SPARC is raising funds to provide.

SPARC has a long-term goal of is to provide scholarships for suicide care in order to lower the financial barriers to treatment.

Mental Health First Aide USA, indicates learning the warning signs of suicide is the first step for being able to support a person experiencing suicidal thoughts. Signs include talking about wanting to die, feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, sleep, and mood, feeling like a burden to others, withdrawing and isolating oneself socially, among others.

“It is important to ask a person if they are thinking about killing themselves in a direct, nonjudgmental manner if you recognize warning signs in a person,” Sizemore said. “The notion that this puts the thought of suicide in a person’s head is simply not the case. If a person is actively suicidal, never leave the person alone and stay until help arrives. In Rush County, the Emergency Room handles suicidal crises.”

Questions regarding the event can be directed to SPARC Events Chair Jane Gentry at 765-932-7537 or General questions about SPARC can be directed to SPARC President Deb Hummel at 765-561-3682 or

If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text 741741. The Lifeline is a 24/7 crisis line that provides free, confidential support.

A confidential online chat option is also available at


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