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Suicide prevention event set

The origami crane is an international symbol for healing, peace and hope, and according to legend, anyone who folds 1,000 cranes will have their heart’s desire.

That is why 1,000 such cranes will be strung together to mark the starting point of a community outreach walk that helps those struggling with depression and those who have lost someone to suicide.

The Hampton Roads Morning of Hope will be held at Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach on Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Group Inc. non-profit is sponsoring the effort to show that suicide is a preventable tragedy.

“This event is for those touched by depression or suicide, and for anyone who lost their battle,” said Chris Gilchrist, a licensed social worker and the event organizer. “Not to heart disease or cancer, but to the disease of depression.”

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms will speak during the informative program in the morning, with WAVY-TV 10 anchor Tom Schaad as emcee. Several other speakers will discuss their firsthand experiences with depression or suicide.

Senior military officers will also be present to discuss untreated depression, the No. 1 cause of suicide, Gilchrist said.

“Our most at-risk resident in Hampton Roads is military, and the last thing we want to do is exclude them,” she said. “We want to be more responsive to them.”

Attendees will wear bandannas on their arms with unique colors representing the relationships they had to those they lost. Gilchrist said these identifiers build unspoken connections among fellow grievers.

Professional counselors will be available to answer questions and provide support. A Memory Wall will be decorated with the pictures and mementos of those missed so that their lives can be celebrated and remembered by friends and friends.

Attendees will take pictures, enjoy complimentary food and beverages from vendors like Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, and make arts and crafts as they wait with their tickets for the crane “peace” quilt raffle.

Gilchrist has organized the Out of the Darkness national suicide awareness event at Mount Trashmore for the past 11 years. She said she stepped away from that organization to organize the first Hampton Roads focused event to better respond to the needs of the community.

Furthermore, funds raised will stay local to go towards mental health resources in Hampton Roads, she said.

“Hampton Roads has the Morning for Hope because Hampton Roads has come into its own,” she said. “Hampton Roads civilians and military have come into their own. We have our own event, and with this event, all seven cities and all five military branches will come together and be unified in this cause.”

Call 483-5111 for registration and other information, or visit HamptonRoadsSOS-Hope.org.