Walking for Jorge: Adoram walks to fight against suicide 

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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Back in June, Adoram 1029, members of the Rosa of Sharon Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Stars came together to honor a loved one lost by bringing awareness to suicide prevention.

The organization, alongside the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Virginia Chapter, held a suicide prevention walk at Kings Fork Middle School on Saturday, June 22, in memory of Jorge Hernandez Jr, who died by suicide in 2023. 

June 21, the day before the walk, was Hernandez’s birthday, and his mother, Diana Jones, talked about bringing the walk to fruition.

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“I wanted to do a commemorative walk, so we came up with the suicide prevention [walk] because the cause of his death was by suicide,” Jones said.

At the walk, Adoram 1029 Secretary Tanya Hobbs emphasized the importance of bringing awareness to both suicide prevention and mental health.

“I think people need to realize for those who don’t realize that suicide is a very real thing. Mental health is a very real thing,” Hobbs said. “You need to keep check on your mental health as well as your physical health, because your physical health can affect your mental health. And your mental health can also affect your physical health. I know that personally.”

Noting a rise in suicide rates, Hobbs further emphasized those suffering to reach out to various suicide prevention and mental health resources for help. 

“There’s resources out there where people can assist you if you need to talk to somebody, reach out to somebody…,” Hobbs said. “So, for me, it’s extremely important and we just want to bring awareness to mental health and that it is a very important thing… We want the numbers to go down because life is a gift and we want people to live it.”

From a clinical perspective, Adoram Chairman of Trustees and Chesapeake Regional Medical Center PA-C Adrienne L. Johnson says that she saw an uptick in mental health numbers during the pandemic while noting how mental health transcends people, creed and nationally.

“It crosses social economic groups – you have people who are professional and people who are unprofessional and unfortunately, as I said, speaking from personal experience, we are seeing that mental health numbers have [increased] and that people don’t realize what resources they have available to them,” Johnson said. “We have hotlines now as well. The ER is generally the first place that people do tend to come to, however, working in the community is just putting a highlight so that people can know right in the grassroots where we can go to get help…”

Johnson also noted the importance of de-stigmatizing the view of mental health in society, especially within the black community.

“Unfortunately for us, we are kind of taught culturally and historically to just ‘grin and bear it,’ however, just being an African-American provider, I kind of open the door and let them know that it is ok to not be ok,” she said. “And sometimes there’s [an] affinity of people to be able to speak to and relate to someone who looks like them and share the same cultural backgrounds, because if you look in each one of our families, there has been somebody that has been affected or has had to endure. And unfortunately, women attempt suicide more. Men complete more.”

Adoram 1029 Co-Chair and Kings Fork Middle School Teacher Phylicia Nixon says the walk is “very, very dear” to her heart because many of her friends lost their lives at a young age.

“I am only 26 and I’ve seen countless people that graduated with, you know, take their life…everyone knows that you can always speak to someone. That someone is always there for you, but me teaching middle school, I’ve witnessed countless children struggle from day-to-day,” Nixon said. “You never know what’s going on. A kind word can go so far with someone, and I teach kids as young as 10 who have these issues. And I just try to be a positive light, even when I am not feeling my best. I try to be there for others because I’ve been in that place…”

Hernandez’s middle sister, aunt and little sister Bianca Jones, Barbara Felton, and Ciara Jones talked about walking for him the day after his birthday, with Bianca noting how much it means to her.

“Because he was my older brother and we’re about 12 years apart and just keeping his memory living on is all that matters to me and also mental health. Because mental health awareness is a huge thing for me personally,” Bianca Jones said.

Felton says that she thinks about her nephew every day.

“He will be missed with his smiles,” Felton said. “To shine a light on this issue is very important.”

Likewise, Ciara Jones says the walk is like hanging out with her brother again.

“This is how we normally would do things. We’d just one day, we’d wake up, grab the coolers, get in the car and just go,” Ciara said. “It’s like one more hangout session, and we get to do it every year now.”

Finally, Diana Jones hopes the walk will help people see that mental health should be a top priority for people.

“Everyone, all walks of life, are affected by this,” Jones said. “It’s ok. It’s ok to seek help for mental health.”

If you are in crisis, please call, text, or chat with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For resources, go to afsp.org/suicide-prevention-resources.