COLORADO SPRINGS — September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and communities across southern Colorado are coming together to talk about mental health challenges we're all facing. News5 learned about upcoming 5K run events and how they are working to generate resources and awareness in this fight against suicide.
Mental health and especially suicide are difficult topics to talk about. This month, work is being done to break down those barriers through 5K runs in Colorado Springs and in Monument where people will literally take steps toward saving a life.
"What is a way that we can reach out into our community with hope? The message of hope.," said Lead Pastor Brian Petak of The Ascent Church.
So the Run4Hope 5K For Schools was born.
"This is the fourth annual race. It started in 2017 and it's grown every year," said Petak.
The 5K run in Monument is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19. By participating in the event, or as a volunteer, people can help raise money and awareness for the fight against suicide at four local high schools.
"The students keep coming into the high schools. There's a new fresh crop of freshmen every year and so we just have to continue to do that sow seeds of hope," said Petak.
This event helps to fund Sources Of Strength training helping students and teachers to work with teens who are struggling.
"We know that they have because there have been interventions when students have reached out for help," said Petak.
On Sunday, Sept. 20, people can volunteer or take part in the Race Against Suicide in Colorado Springs.
"I want them to get inspired and to connect with one another because it's those connections, it's that feeling of I can make a difference, I can help save a life, that will absolutely help to save a life," said Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention Partnership Executive Director Cassandra Walton.
The race will serve as a memorial for those we have lost because of suicide, while also generating awareness of volunteer opportunities and resources available at the Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention Partnership.
"We need volunteers at our center," said Walton. "One of the most popular services we’re providing right now is peer support calls. These are individuals who are not in crisis, but they need someone to talk to so they don't get into crisis. It's a great healthy choice to talk to someone when you're upset. But right now we have more people who need that service than I have volunteers to provide it."
UCCS graduate student Caitlin Caviness is a counseling intern passionate about suicide prevention. She says we can all start somewhere.
"Text a friend. Call a friend or family member and say I know you're going through this hard time. Do you want to just sit and talk?" said Caviness. "So, I think at the basic level it's one of the most important places that a person could start."
The UCCS Director Of Mental Health Services Benek Atayli is also urging everyone to get involved in these types of community events.
"I encourage them to go contribute and own this effort and be a partner in suicide prevention efforts wherever they are," said Atayli.
If you would like to learn more about these events and how to get involved visit:
If you need someone to talk to or need information about crisis hotlines: