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Valley Rivers students walk to end suicide

FORT KENT, Maine — It was a chilly, early October morning but six Valley Rivers Middle School students who are part of the Valley Rivers Middle School Student Council Team and their adviser, Kara Beal, came with a bright attitude and smiles to participate in the Out of Darkness Walk, which supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Connor Pelletier, Annabelle Reardon, Mira Kelly, Tia Saucier, Genevieve Michaud-Naranja and Sadie Pelletier showed their support not only by walking but by raising $215.

Considering why she and the group gave up a Saturday morning, Saucier stated, “We know that this is an important cause and it is crazy how often it occurs.”

Andrea Dumond, the director of this walk in Fort Kent, told the participants that there are approximately 800,000 suicides every year, which means one every 40 seconds in the world. The six students were shocked not only by this statement but by the number of families who participated due to a loss of a loved one.

“I can’t believe how many people from around here have had a person they know take their life. It is sad,” commented Connor Pelletier.

At the end of the walk, all participants received a purple balloon to release as a symbol of those lives lost due to suicide. The balloon release was accompanied by a song representing the feelings that loved ones have due to their loss. During the musical offering, one balloon hung onto the limb of a tree. When the last note of the song was sung, the balloon suddenly released itself — which the students all saw.

“That was amazing. It symbolizes those fighting for their life,” stated Kelly.

“It gave me goosebumps,” said Michaud-Naranja.

Those who would like to support Valley Rivers Middle School Student Council Team to fight suicide and support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s goal to reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025, visit https://afsp.donordrive.com/participant/1781369.

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