This past July, Changing Tides, a Little Tokyo Service Center program, hosted an event called Ripple Effect: Walk for Suicide Prevention. The event was titled “Ripple Effect” as this event was intended to be a moment of reflection for those we have lost by suicide and to be a reminder that anyone can create a ripple effect in suicide awareness and prevention.
The event focused on addressing the increasing rates of suicide within the young adult population and to fundraise money to support the creation of more suicide prevention resources. By the end of the day the event had raised over $102,000, and with continued fundraising they are currently at $116,000! According to Changing Tides there were over 350 people who came to walk in solidarity for suicide prevention, awareness, and to honor those who we have lost to suicide.
This event was beautifully thought out and honored our loved ones. There were speeches, banners, a taiko performance, resource booths, and food trucks that came out to support this cause. My favorite part was seeing younger kids at this event and seeing them interacting with the resource booths such as the Kindness Rocks tables where you can decorate a rock with a positive message. Knowing that people are being exposed to the topic of mental illnesses at a young age can help the process of destigmatizing conversations. On the track’s fence, banners were displayed to honor some of the people who lost their lives to suicide that friends and family could sign with notes.
I attended this event in memory of my cousin, Kevin Sasaki, who we lost by suicide earlier this year and was 23 years old. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2020 and his family did their best to support him through his struggles, but we lost him in January 2022. Kevin’s family hopes that by sharing his story, the social stigma around the topic of mental illness and bipolar disorder can decrease and the conversations to learn and support each other better increases. If you would like to read more about Kevin’s story, you can visit his website.
I hope that Changing Tides continues to host this walk as it was impactful. I am so happy to hear how much they have raised thus far and I hope people continue to donate to this cause as it needs more attention, especially in the AAPI community. Through events, education, or even reading this story, we can all learn more about mental health awareness. I know we have the ability to and I hope you feel inspired to create a ripple effect.
If you would like to donate to Changing Tides you can do so here: https://give.ltsc.org/give/206397/#!/donation/checkout.