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Walk raises awareness about suicide

(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)
(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Oklahoma ranks in the top ten when it comes to suicide according to the latest statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

Which is why students in Western Oklahoma State College's Nursing Program decided to host a fundraising walk at Cameron University, not only aimed at raising awareness about suicide but to help prevent it by educating others about the risks and signs.

During the walk, people wore beads to honor those they lost to suicide. Purple was for a relative or a friend, gold was for a parent and red was for a spouse. 

People also lined the Bentley Garden with paper bags. Those bags have names and notes written by people who lost loved ones to suicide. 

Linda Sexton was just one of more than 200 who participated in the walk along the Aggie Mile, wearing purple and gold beads.

"I've lost family members and friends to suicide. Several people that have contemplated suicide. I'm sorry for everybody's loss not just mine and it's an epidemic and people need help. Something needs to be done," Sexton said.

Students in the nursing program agreed. Ali Williams said after they finished their mental health rotation they got to work planning tonight's event. 

"We are, I think, one of the most underfunded states for actual mental health and treatment and resources are so great and we just figured that we'd bring light to those resources and just help give back. I don't these people realize how prevalent it is," Williams said.

According to the latest statistics, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2014, there were over 700 suicides in Oklahoma. 

While mental health is a big issue in the state of Oklahoma, it's not just a discussion for lawmakers, but one Sexton says everyone should be having. 

"If you know anybody, if you see the warning signs, reach out, get them help, take them some place talk to them, try to figure out what's going on and help them," Sexton said.

The event also had several booths with information on those warning signs, along with prevention tips, and other resources like counseling services and hotline numbers.  

They also held a raffle tonight to raise money for local mental health facilities. No word yet on how much they raised.

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