The "honor beads" a family wore on a walk Saturday in Jefferson City's Memorial Park were a reminder that despite the typical features of a weekend in fall around them — falling leaves, talk of college football — their walk was one out of darkness and toward a hope stronger than suicide.
"It's a good way for us to honor our brother," said Kimberly Bullock, whose brother, Shaun Potter, 34, of Vienna, died by suicide in March 2014.
Potter was a concrete worker, built cabinets, and was a mechanic and laborer. He enjoyed hunting, truck and tractor pulling, and spending time with family, according to his obituary.
He also struggled with alcohol and depression, Bullock said.
She and other members of her family wore different colored necklaces of beads as they walked Saturday in an "Out of the Darkness" walk.
Chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention host Out of the Darkness community walks across the country to raise money for suicide prevention.
The beads show their connections to the cause: Orange beads for the loss of a sibling; white for the loss of a child; purple for the loss of a relative or friend; blue for being a general supporter of suicide prevention.
There's also red for the loss of a spouse or partner, gold for the loss of a parent, silver for the loss of a first responder or member of the military, green for a personal struggle or attempt, and teal for supporting someone who struggles or has attempted.
Bullock said this was the fourth year her family's done a walk. Usually, they're part of a large event in Columbia, and it's a goal to get a similar event going in Jefferson City.
The pandemic this year meant a temporary shift to a virtual event and small groups of people taking it upon themselves to walk.
The group walking for Potter on Saturday — also including his fellow sister, Lisa Wegman, and his mom, Joan Newport — said it's important for people to be aware of resources to help people struggling, and the more comfortable people are talking about suicide, the more comfortable someone will likely be in coming forward to seek help.
Bullock said the group met their goal of raising $500 for AFSP.
The organization funds scientific research, educates the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocates for mental health and suicide prevention public policies, and supports survivors of suicide loss, according to its website.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline provides 24/7 free and confidential support at 1-800-273-8255.
More mental health assistance information is included in the list of community resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is published on page B1 of the News Tribune digital edition.