The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program was founded in 1994 and has dedicated the last 22 years to preventing suicide and attempts by making suicide prevention accessible and building nationwide awareness. They are 100% committed to vocalizing, educating and bringing awareness to suicide prevention no matter how difficult it may be to discuss and understand.
Currently, the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program has chapters in all 50 states and in 28 countries worldwide. Locally, Minnesota has two chapters. The Open Arms Program out of Claremont and the Brown County Yellow Ribbon Organization out of New Ulm.
Emily Reding has been actively involved with the Brown County Chapter of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program for that last 15 years. In a recent interview with her I learned about the vital work the program is doing to bring awareness and educate the Brown County Community on Suicide Prevention.
“The heart of the program is to prevent suicide by building awareness and breaking the stigma around mental illness” said Reding.
Reding began her work with the organization as a youth member and now currently holds 1 of the 15 board members positions that make up the non-profit organization. Throughout her years with the organization Reding has noticed an increase in conversation around mental health and suicide. She credits this to the community involvement of programs, like Yellow Ribbon, that spread the message that “It’s OK to ask for help”. Recent “high profile” deaths by suicide exposed by the media, such as comedian Robin William’s death in 2014 have also helped to break the stigma around suicide and mental health.
The Brown County Yellow Ribbon organization is involved in many Neighborhood-watch parties, health fairs and other community events throughout the Sleepy Eye, New Ulm and Springfield area. In addition, the organization hosts two main events each year, Walk of Hope 5K and the Break the Ice 5k and 10k.
Walk of Hope is a free 5K event held the second week in September during Suicide Prevention Week. The walk helps bring awareness to mental health and the prevention of suicide. Survivors of Suicide (known as SOS) walk to remember those they have lost to suicide and the lives that can be saved.
“The walk is a way for family and friends to come together in memory of those they have lost” Reding shared “It’s a very emotional day for most participants.”
The biggest fundraiser for Brown County Yellow Ribbon is their annual Breaking the Ice event. The 5K & 10K run/walk navigates you though the scenic trail of Alison Park in New Ulm, Minnesota. The race began 5 years ago when area troops were deployed to Kuwait. The Brown County Yellow Ribbon Organization partnered with Beyond the Yellow Ribbon to host an event to educate and bring awareness to the public about the high number of suicides among military members and their families. In their inaugural year many troop members participated in the 5K from their base in Kuwait, while their family and friends completed the race in Sleepy Eye, MN.
The race draws many veterans from around the area who are grateful there is a place for vets to turn to receive support, something that hasn’t always been publicly available to our military.
During our interview, Reding shared a story about a Vietnam War Vet who participates in the race each year to show his support for the work Brown County Yellow Ribbon does to educate and support our military on the importance of mental health.
“Our military fight for our freedom and sacrifice so much along with their family and friends, it’s important that we take care of them and make sure they know they’re not alone in their struggles” Reding stated.
This year’s race will take place on Saturday, April 9, 2016. Register online now and spend a beautiful spring morning running or walking alongside your friends and family and raising awareness for this incredible cause. Participants are encouraged to wear red, white, and blue to show support for our military. Active military and veterans receive $10 off their registration for this event.
All proceeds from the event benefit the Brown County Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. Fundraising events such as Breaking the Ice 5k and 10k and through support from the Brown County United Way, Brown County Yellow Ribbon is able to provide free school presentations, community presentations and training to educate on suicide prevention and help save lives.