Although gray skies brought a smattering of rain over YMCA-Snow Mountain Ranch on Sept. 10, the clouds cleared in late afternoon – perfect timing for a group of hikers. They headed up to the waterfall, Snow Mountain’s most popular hike. The waterfall is an uplifting sight; for these hikers, it had a special meaning. They were part of the You Are Not Alone event for suicide awareness and prevention.
This was the third annual YANA event, held on Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day. Attendees met at the Nordic Center, where organizations offered wellness activities and information. They enjoyed a free meal from Greek Street Eats and music from KFFR radio.
“We had a record number of volunteers helping to pull everything together, and many community organizations were involved,” organizer Helen Seddelmeyer wrote to Sky-Hi News.
Seddelmeyer is a behavioral health navigator for Middle Park Health. Middle Park Health teamed up with the Grand County Rural Health Network, Mind Springs Health, the Grand County Library District and several other groups to offer the event.
“Despite the weather, meaningful conversations and connections were had. We engaged in breathing exercises to relieve anxiety and took part in a yoga flow pre-hike,” Seddelmeyer stated. “It was a lovely day to remember our loved ones lost to suicide and celebrate our resilience.”
The waterfall hike was the highlight of the event, which attendees could take solo or part of the group.
The trail meandered leisurely through dense forests dotted with wildflowers, alongside streams and ponds. Along the trail, hikers could reflect on the effects of suicide, aided by signs explaining that at-risk groups include children, first responders, veterans and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, many of whom suffer from mental health challenges.
Hikers learned that Colorado is part of the country’s suicide belt – states where the suicide rate is significantly higher. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Colorado; 1,384 Coloradans lost their lives to suicide in 2021.
The YANA hike illuminated that those struggling with thoughts of suicide are not alone; they find support from each other and local organizations. Those struggling have places to turn to, including Building Hope Grand, part of the Grand Foundation. The hike benefitted Building Hope Grand, which operates the H.O.P.E. Fund, as well as the mental health resource website, BuildingHopeGrand.com.
Once hikers reached the waterfall, there was a sense of hope. The serene sound of falling water filled the ravine the stream ran through; the sun made a brief appearance through the clouds. Whether hikers trekked to the falls by themselves or with the group, they knew there was a community surrounding them.
To find help and support for mental health challenges or addiction, please visit BuildingHopeGrand.com. To reach the Colorado Crisis Services Hotline, call 1-844-493-8255 or text ‘TALK’ to 8255. Call or text “988” to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline call center. The Lifeline provides 24/7, confidential support to those in crisis or mental health-related distress.