On September 7, 2023, as the sun rose, attendees and advocates of the Honor Bead Run assembled at the Yucca Trail in White Sands Missile Range. This run is held every September to promote Suicide Prevention Month, raise awareness, and provide resources for suicide prevention assistance. People are the U.S. Army and Installation Command’s number one priority, and this event emphasizes that by bringing individuals together and building a supportive community.
“It was worth doing the bead run again because of the result I saw last year. People were talking about their loss as they collected the beads that told their story,” said Sandra Class, Army Substance Abuse Program Manager for U.S. Army Garrison White Sands Missile Range.
Class explained that the bead run is a way to initiate a discussion about suicide, which is a complex topic. Unlike other illnesses, it is not easy to determine someone's connection to suicide just by looking at them.
Each bead color represents the personal connection of individuals affected by suicide, allowing them to share their connection to the cause and enabling others to identify with those who may have gone through a similar experience. This conversation can diminish the stigma associated with seeking help or offering it to those in need.
“The community came out to this event in support of connecting. This was a great platform to create a culture that's smarter about mental health. This event is in-line with the theme of connectedness,” said Class.
During Suicide Prevention Month, it is crucial to prioritize daily interactions and attentiveness towards those in our midst, it is the little things in life that make a difference. In order to effectively support individuals who may be struggling, it is imperative to remain present and attuned to their needs. By actively listening and engaging with those around us, we can foster a culture of compassion and understanding, ultimately contributing to a safer and more supportive environment for all.
The Army Substance Abuse Program is hosting a Strike Out Stigma event with wacky bowling on September 13 at Road Runner Lanes. Visit the White Sands Missile Range official website and social media pages for more updates on upcoming Suicide Prevention Month activities and events.