Walkers light up the night for suicide prevention  

7 months ago

HOULTON, Maine – Hues of red, blue, green, yellow and purple lit up the skies outside of the Maliseet Community Center Wednesday evening, Sept. 13 as part of a color walk in support of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

A small group attended the Houlton event, which was one of five held simultaneously along with the Presque Isle Boys and Girls Club, Indian Township Youth and Recreation Department, Penobscot Nation Youth Program (Indian Island), Sipayik Boys and Girls Club (Pleasant Point).

“This walk tonight is an intertribal effort and is about being there for each other and bringing awareness to suicide and suicide prevention,” explained Shelby Sabatis, Nikan’usk Educator for Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness. “It is also a way for our communities to come together to spread the same message as every tribal community here in Maine is walking together alongside us this same night.

“The light from our glow sticks symbolizes hope in the darkness and we hope by coming together we can decrease mental health stigma and bring attention to suicide prevention,” Sabatis added.

Shelby Sabatis, Nikan’usk Educator for the Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness team, conducts a smudging ceremony at the start of Wednesday’s Glow Walk in support of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
(Courtesy of HBMI)

Prior to the start of the event, a ceremonial smudging took place, followed by a Native song sung by Joe Sabatis. A Native prayer was also spoken by Tribal Elder Danya Boyce prior to the walk.

If you know someone who is at immediate risk of suicide, call 911 right away. 

If you are struggling or in crisis, remember that there is hope and there are steps you can take to seek help and support. Call or text 988. In 2022, the 988 number was activated as a new three-digit dialing code. When someone dials 988, they will be connected to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This confidential support line is available 24 hours a day to provide free help to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress.

Julie Ivey, a licensed clinical social worker for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, works on a poster during Wednesday’s Glow Walk to support Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
(Courtesy of HBMI)

Prior to the walk, participants enjoyed light refreshments inside the gymnasium, where they created posters showing their support for suicide prevention. Officials from the Maliseets’ Indian Child Welfare office were also on-hand to provide information.