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Baptist Health's annual Chalk the Walk held in recognition of suicide awareness week

Times-Tribune - 9/22/2022

Sep. 20—CORBIN — Mike Dezarn is no stranger to the struggles that come with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

A recreational therapist for about seven years now with Baptist Health in Corbin, Dezarn organized the hospital's Chalk the Walk for National Suicide Awareness Week, which ran September 4 to September 10.

When asked about the September 7 event, Dezarn said, "It's actually a national event that happens each year across the country. Most of the time it coincides with National Suicide Awareness Week. It's mainly used to bring awareness to the epidemic of suicide amongst the whole entire population. It (suicide) doesn't really miss any people. It doesn't matter how old they are or what race or religion. It hits everyone the same."

When he was younger, Dezarn struggled with suicidal thoughts himself.

"I suffered through depression and anxiety and suicidal thoughts for probably 14 years of my younger life. I finally kept thinking about the reasons I was getting depressed and they kept getting smaller. They weren't really there for the most part. My mind kept making it worse. I did it like that for a really long time and then I slowly got out of it," said Dezarn.

Although he never actively tried, Dezarn shared there were times he would be near a gun or see a cliff or traffic, and the thoughts about suicide would start to come. He added that it's sometimes difficult to tell when a loved one may be struggling with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

He added, "I was extremely good at masking mine."

Dezarn then started thinking about all of the positive things in his life, and how it would affect his mother, sister, or other family members if he chose to end his life.

"Sharing my story has helped me quite a bit. I kept thinking about the positive things in my life. and now that I'm in (the) position I'm in now, I can use the stuff I went through to help people. I'm taking a negative and turning it into a positive," Dezarn said.

An estimated 60-75 people showed up to the event, and those who wanted to participate were also invited to submit their drawings with sidewalk chalk.

Contest entries could be submitted through Sunday with voting to continue through September 26. First, second, and third place winners will be chosen the following.

As one last piece of advice to those who may be struggling, Dezarn added, "Don't think you're the only person out there who has those thoughts. There's a lot more of us out there than you actually know and you can find people out there who will listen. You need to tell them how you're feeling."

Those in need can call or text the new National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.


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