Several hundred walkers made their way through the Ironwoods Park in Leawood Sunday morning as part of the Speak Up Walk to raise awareness of and destigmatize mental illness and suicide.
Working with the Jewish Family Services and the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition, Steve and Karen Arkin and Allie Doss joined forces to increase awareness and counter the stigma associated with mental illness.
Both families have lost a child to suicide. The Arkins lost their 20-year-old son Jason. Doss lost her 16-year-old daughter Sara Prideaux.
“Suicide does not discriminate amongst any of us,” Steve Arkin told the walkers before the start of the walk.
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“It is that we have to work harder to understand the disease and educate ourselves to speak up and to be able to have sufferers and non-sufferers know that depression and other mental illnesses are just like other illnesses.”
It has to be addressed, treated and supported, he said.
“Nobody should have to lose their child, their mother, their brother, their friend, a family member to something such as suicide,” Doss said.