COLUMBIA, MD – The Howard County Executive Office, Department of Recreation & Parks Director A. Raul Delerme, County Health Department’s Dr. Maura Rossman, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Area Director Kat Olbrich, and Executive Director of Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, Inc. Mariana Izraelson welcomed participants to the inaugural Light the Night 5K for Suicide Prevention on Friday at Oakland Mills High School in Columbia. Photos from the event can be found here.
“In Howard County, we are committed to providing comfort to those families who have lost loved ones to suicide, while also striving to offer programs, services and other resources that raise awareness, while also helping our residents with counseling and other programs. Together, we can create a more supportive community for all residents.”
The Light the Night 5K was spearheaded by Chloe McGeehan who served as student member for the past year for the Howard County Recreation and Parks Park Board. Over 150 participants raised more than $2,100 combined. Funds raised from Friday’s race will benefit both the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Maryland Chapter and Howard County’s Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center in support of their mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.
"I created Light the Night 5k for Suicide Prevention to provide resources and support for youth who, like myself, have personally experienced the serious suicide statistics plaguing our county and larger Maryland community. Running has helped me heal from loss, develop physical and mental strength, and connect with new people,” said Chloe McGeehan. “I thought a 5k fundraiser would translate well to raising both funds and much needed mental health awareness, especially because the CDC reports, 'some benefits of physical activity on brain health happen right after a single session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.' Ultimately, I want this 5k to serve as a county-wide acknowledgment that we, the residents of Howard County, believe mental health is not only important, but an essential part of our collective community success.”
“We are proud to be part of such a powerful event like Light the Night 5K, which will provide crucial financial support to programs that are committed to saving lives and being there for families,” said A. Raul Delerme, Director of the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks. “It is inspiring to see so many people coming together as a community to raise awareness.”
“We know that the last year and a half has been a particularly challenging time for many. It is important to talk about mental health and to know that there is hope and help available,” said Dr. Maura J. Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “This event brings awareness about mental health together with the resources that can make a difference in the lives our friends, family and community”.
“At Grassroots we are grateful to the organizers and supporters of Light the Night 5K,” said Executive Director Dr. Mariana Izraelson. “It has broadened understanding of mental health issues in our community, increased compassion for those who have been touched by suicide, and generated funds for needed services. Thank you to all who participated, especially the young people who worked to make this event a success.”
“Suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-24, but we do know that there are ways to prevent suicide,” said Kat Olbrich, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Area Director. “The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention aims to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide by funding critical suicide research, educating communities about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for mental health parity, and providing support for suicide loss survivors. All these efforts, in combination with community events like this 5K run, will help create a culture that is smart about mental health and save lives.”
Suicide was the leading cause of death for youth ages 15-19 in Howard County between 2014-2016. In 2018, the Howard County Health Department reported that 1 in 6 high school students seriously considered attempting suicide. This data was gathered before the pandemic, meaning it does not depict the effects of isolation-related depression and financial stressors on families.
Additional resources for support or if you have thoughts about suicide: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741, and the Trevor Project for LGBTQ+ communities at 1-866-488-7386.
Grassroots operates a 24-hour crisis intervention and supportive counseling hotline; individuals may call 410-531-6677 for a variety of reasons including suicide, family and relationship problems, shelter needs, violent or threatening domestic situations, and more. To learn more, visit https://grassrootscrisis.org.