Student organizes suicide awareness walk, fundraiser

Suicide prevention walk raises money for Landen Lucas Foundation, hundreds in attendance


Emily Kruse

Junior Jordan Ott releases balloons at the We Got Your Back suicide awareness walk on March 23. Ott planned the event in memory of his older brother. “To me, it was a dream come true,” Ott said. “We had over 300 people come and just like everybody there all supporting the cause. I think it was really powerful for our community, all standing together for something that’s really big that goes unnoticed, which is suicide. ...Everybody was positive even though it’s such a negative topic. Everybody was there and willing to listen. I felt like really proud of it. It really brought tears to my eyes when I gave my speech and the end of the event and just seeing everyone wearing the shirt.“

By Freeman Spray, Webmaster and Copy Editor

Hoping for change, about 300 people gathered at the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center to raise awareness about suicide on March 23.

Junior Jordan Ott organized the event in memory of his brother, Isaiah, who died from suicide in 2013.

“I understand what a lot of people do go through, from both sides, being the victim or someone being hurt by it,” Ott said. “So I felt like I just wanted to get the message out there, to help save somebody.”

Originally, the event had been planned for Feb. 23, but was pushed back due to inclement weather.

“I didn’t want to push it back,” Ott said. “In that time frame you never know if somebody could commit suicide.”

The proceeds from the event went to the Landen Lucas Foundation, a nonprofit created by professional basketball player Landen Lucas to help provide athletics scholarships for student athletes who can’t afford equipment and entry fees.

The event included representatives from Headquarters, the Lawrence counseling center and suicide prevention lifeline; and Bert Nash, a nonprofit mental health organization.

“I really just reached out, seeing who would fit the category or who could help with what I was trying to do,” Ott said.

These groups provided information about their services and about steps individuals can take to help prevent suicide. Emphasis was placed on reaching out to people when they behave concerning ways.

“When people see that other people are hurting like that,” attendee and LHS graduate James Reader said,” they just don’t worry about it, like it’s not their fault, but it’s like they should get help.”

Ott and the organizations assembled at the event also stressed the importance of opening up to others about one’s own feelings.

“Events like this can bring people out and just bring awareness to things that are going on in your community,” Ott’s Aunt Paula Wesley said. “We don’t ever know what is going on between closed doors.”

The final station was the walk: four laps in the gym, completed by each attendee. The laps were representative of the four divisions of wellbeing established in the Native American medicine wheel: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Ott discussed the importance of this symbol in a speech, encouraging everyone to not neglect any part of the whole.

“[Suicide] is something that needs to be acknowledged, not only when it just happens, because then it’s too late,” Ott said. “I think if we got the community educated about all the problems and factors of it, it could help.