Break The Silence 5K was a success

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/3/2022 9:25:58 AM
Modified: 6/3/2022 9:23:59 AM

The third annual Break the Silence 5K for suicide prevention took place on Sunday, May 22 at ConVal High School. The event, organized by ConVal students Callie Boisvert and Abbey Shumway, was in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It featured speeches from Shamera Simpson, the head of AFSP for the New Hampshire and Maine chapter, and guest speaker Robbie Spencer. Spencer shared his struggles with mental illness and the journey he has been on to speak up and get the help he needed.

Community members came out to run, walk, and volunteer in what co-organizer Abbey Shumway said was a very successful event.

“The turnout was really great and everyone was willing to support, help, and talk about mental health,” Shumway said. Events such as this can give hope and a sense of control to families who have been impacted by suicide, Shumway said, while also giving individuals the courage to speak out about their own struggles.

“Awareness within the community is the biggest goal here,” Shumway said. “We want to breakthe stigma. Make sure people understand it’s ok to talk about mental health and make it anormalized topic.”

Co-organizer Callie Boisvert echoed the same thoughts.

“We had so many amazing people there, and great support. It was our most successful year, and the people that came seemed to really care for suicide prevention,” Boisvert said.The 5K followed a route surrounding the high school, featuring encouraging signs, posters, and messages for participants along the way. Though there were many new faces this year, the event also saw some returning faces, such as ConVal junior Laramie Wilson. Wilson noted that she saw a wide variety of people participating, from classmates and teachers, to parents and community members.

“It was so heartwarming to see all these people in the community come and support my friendsand the cause itself,” Wilson said.

Another returning participant was ConVal social studies teacher Eric Bowman. Though Bowman chose to run, he emphasized how welcoming the environment was for those of all abilities.

“I was really proud of how thoughtful they were putting it together,” Bowman said. “Everyone was made to feel very welcome, regardless of their running or walking ability.”

Through both online and in person donations, Boisvert and Shumway were able to raise over $6,000, surpassing their $5,000 goal. All the funds raised will support the New Hampshire chapter of AFSP, with a portion of the funds going towards future Break the Silence events.They hope these funds will go towards educating younger generations about mental health. Next year, they’re planning to visit classrooms and incorporate presentations about mental illness into the education of younger students in the school district. However, this is just the beginning of opening the door for the discussion of mental health.

“I hope to change lives, to save lives, to help people know they are worth living in the world and to normalize mental health and make it a comfortable conversation to reach out when you need it,” Boisvert said.

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