Clinton County Bringing Awareness to Teen Suicide with New Event

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It's one of the leading causes of death for teens.

In Clinton County, Iowa - a community that has seen an increase in teen suicides is taking action to prevent them with a new event called the "Glow Walk."

The event will take place at Eagle Point Park in Clinton, Iowa on Friday, August 16th, 2013. Starting at 4:30pm, the event will include music from B100, food from Maid-Rite and Jimmy Johns, a silent auction, and - at 8:00pm - a one-mile walk complete with glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark t-shirts.

"It's kind of like 'light up the night'... showing that we’re standing up and we’re showing the light that there is a better side of life and that life’s a lot brighter if you don’t allow bullying to happen to you," says Organizer Brent Smith, a local business owner.

Even though there is not a direct relationship between bullying and teen suicide, research cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics states 90% of teens who kill themselves have some type of mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, or a behavior problem.

Rita Walton, a local bar owner who started the idea of the "Glow Walk" with a simple Facebook post, says proceeds from the event will go to Bridgeview Community Mental Health Center in Clinton, Iowa to start, continue, and help support their anti-bullying, suicide prevention, and other mental health programs in the community and school districts.

"I want to put the word out there to go to somebody," says Rita. "It doesn’t matter who it is – go to somebody and tell them what’s happening so they can fix it. Your school years should be happy ones and good ones and fun-filled ones."

"We've had a few teen suicides in Camanche and it certainly has a huge impact one community," says Tom Parker, Superintendent of the Camanche School District. "Mental health issues can occur at any age and we do see some mental health issues in our students so it's nice to have support in the community that we can turn to help us and our students to address those concerns."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of teen suicides has been increasing in recent years. In fact, the number of suicide deaths in the U.S. has climbed past the number of motor vehicle deaths, according to data published in 2010.

For 15-24 year olds, suicide is the third leading cause of death behind accidents and homicide. It's the fourth leading cause for children ages 10 to 14. That is why people in Clinton County - like Brent, Rita, and Superintendent Parker - are working to reverse the suicide cycle in their communities.

"A lot of times I think teens think it'll get worse," says Rita. "We need to create the awareness that it will get better."

More than 300 people have already registered for the "Glow Walk," but Brent and Rita says there's still room for more. You can register from 6-8pm on Thursday, August 15th at the Eagle's Club, 222 South 2nd Street, Clinton, Iowa or at the beginning of Friday's event, which starts at 4:30pm at Eagle Point Park in Clinton, Iowa.

More than 20 gift baskets and several special items will be included in the silent auction such as jewelry from Necker's Jewelers, NFL tickets for the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings, as well as a football signed by players from the Green Bay Packers.