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MARION - The Life;Story 5K Walk and Run will aim to prevent suicide and raise awareness about Centerstone, a mental health and addiction treatment service in the Riverbend area.

The 5K will take place on Sept. 9 in Marion, though there are also Centerstone locations in Alton, Carbondale and other towns across the country. All proceeds will help Centerstone patients. Other health and wellness organizations will be there on the day of the event, and speakers will talk about their experiences with suicide.

“The purpose of Life;Story is to bring about awareness for suicide prevention,” Erin Camfield, Centerstone’s Director of Advancement, said. “The semicolon represents that there’s more to come. There’s more to your life, and there’s more to your story.”

This is the first Life;Story 5K in Illinois. Centerstone’s Florida location has sponsored the event for 21 years with thousands of participants each year. Camfield hopes to see 300 Illinois participants for this inaugural event, either in person on Sept. 9 or virtually anytime between Sept. 1 and 9.

“Whether you’re a walker, a runner, or you’re like me and your only goal is to not be the last person to cross the finish line, it’s really about a community coming together and showing those that might be having thoughts of suicide that we care about them and we want their life to continue,” Camfield explained. “If an individual has overcome thoughts of suicide, I encourage them to join us at Life;Story and to share their stories, because sharing our stories is what’s going to help others get through this and encourage others to overcome their battles and to seek the help that they might need.”

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Many participants have formed teams in honor of their loved ones who have had suicidal thoughts or lost their lives to suicide. A local mother will be sharing her story about her son, who died by suicide last year.

Suicide is preventable, but it is still a major cause of death. A spike in mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to rising suicide rates. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention estimates that there were 1.7 million suicide attempts in 2021 in the U.S. alone.

“I’m walking in Cara’s memory in hopes that another Cara in this world, who might be going through the same battle as the Cara that I lost, wins her battle,” Camfield said. “Those that have lost a loved one to suicide, they want to see others overcome that battle. They want to see others win that battle. They don’t want other families to know the loss that they have felt, the hurt that they are feeling every day of their lives. They want those individuals to know that they’re loved, to know that their life is important.”

Centerstone offers a variety of mental health resources, including counseling, psychiatric care and crisis services. They also work with clients to provide housing and medication assisted treatment for addiction recovery. Their services are available on a sliding scale fee.

Businesses and individuals can sponsor the 5K or donate to Centerstone. To learn more about the Marion Life;Story 5K, including how to sign up or donate, click here.

“Every dollar raised through Life;Story in Illinois stays here in Illinois to help with patient care, to prevent suicide in the lives of those individuals and the effects it can have on their families,” Camfield said, adding, “I think people are just going to be able to take away what they need to take away from this message, whether it be a message of hope, a message of connection or a message of understanding.”

If you would like more information about Centerstone and their services, visit their website. For those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can text or call 988 for immediate support from a trained professional.

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