Elliott Foundation to host suicide-prevention event

By Lisa Burnett Published March 20, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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A butterfly release is held each year at the Stride to Prevent Suicide in Searcy. The butterflies represent those who have lost their lives because of suicide.

SEARCY — Spring Park in Searcy will serve as the setting for this year’s Stride to Prevent Suicide event, sponsored by The Dr. Robert E. Elliott Foundation.

“We use this day as a day of education and depression awareness,” Alana Pinchback, executive director of the Dr. Robert E. Elliott Foundation, said.

This year’s event, slated for April 5, will be a little different than last year’s.

“We’re going to have a 5K and a one-mile run/fun walk,” she said.

First-, second- and third-place trophies will be presented to the top three male and female runners.

In previous years, both a 5K and a 10K race have been held.

“[We have this event] to help people who are suffering from depression and those who have lost someone to suicide,” Pinchback said.

The event will begin at 8 a.m. and last until noon.

“[With the event starting so early], the sun starts to come out while we’re there and it represents a new awakening [and awareness] to suicide,” she said.

Not only will attendees have the opportunity to participate in the race events, Pinchback said free depression screenings will also be available.

“It’s just a good day for us all to get together and provide education about depression,” she said. “One of our main goals with our foundation is to break the stigma of depression. People feel like they can’t ask for help because they think they’ll be judged.”

Community involvement is a goal for this year’s Stride to Prevent Suicide.

“We’re making it more of a community event,” she said. “We’re going to have First Security [Bank] cooking on the Teal Grill and they’ll be providing hot dogs. We’ll have music by Diamond Back and we’ll have the memorial butterfly release.”

The butterfly release is something the foundation does every year at the event to honor those who lost their lives to suicide.

“It’s so special,” Pinchback said. “We all release the butterflies together.”

Free depression screenings will be available during the Stride to Prevent Suicide.

“We’ll have a mental health professional on site, and people will answer a series of questions and [the doctor] will rate the patient 1 to 10 on how severe their symptoms might be, and it will be determined if medical attention is needed,” she said.

Pinchback’s job with the Elliott Foundation is an “answer to a prayer,” she said.

“I battled depression as a teenager and didn’t have any resources like this,” she said. “One thing [our foundation] has done is go into the schools of White County and work on a bullying campaign.”

Pinchback said the Stride to Prevent Suicide is open to everyone, even if they’re not running.

“We would love to have people come get food and hang out,” she said.

Registration for the race is $25 per person before March 25, and the fee goes up $5 after that date. Team registration (for a group of 10 or more) is $15 per person until the day of the race.

More information and registration forms are available at www.elliottfoundation.com.

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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