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Cold weather doesn’t stop suicide awareness walk
Unwala: ‘Considering the weather … awesome turnout’
Suicide awareness 5K
The North Georgia Suicide Prevention Awareness 5K Walk/Run was held Saturday at West Forsyth High School to advocate, educate and bring awareness to the crisis of suicide, as well as to offer support to the survivors that are left behind. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

Cold and rainy weather didn’t stop locals from working to raise awareness on the effects of suicide. 

On Saturday, the North Georgia Suicide Prevention Awareness 5K Walk/Run, hosted by Suicide Prevention Action Network Georgia, was held at West Forsyth High School to raise awareness of those who have committed suicide and the survivors left behind.

Board member Sherry Unwala said suicide was a personal matter to herself and fellow member Diane Petro.

“SPAN Georgia is a non-profit organization consisting of volunteers like us because we both lost our children to suicide,” Unwala said. “We decided we wanted to not let other families go through what we did.”

The group has held concerts and motorcycle rides as fundraisers in the past but decided to go with a 5K so more of the community could participate.

“We just thought it’s easier to get people together to come and walk,” Unwala said. “Two years ago we did a walk at Central Park and it was successful and we thought it would be easier … so people from the communities could all participate and feel good about themselves when they are walking.”

Petro estimated 75-100 people came out on the recent cold and rainy Saturday.

“Considering the weather, I think it’s an awesome turnout,” she said. 

Unwala said the group goes each year to the Georgia Capitol to advocate for issues surrounding suicide.

She said the group was instrumental in passing the Jason Flatt Act in 2015, which is named for a New Jersey teen who committed suicide. It requires all educators to have two hours of youth suicide and awareness training. 

In addition to the race, the event also included a dove release as well as speakers who had personally been affected by  suicide.

For more information on the group, go to SPAN-GA.org.