Anti-suicide walk goes independent in Lebanon

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

For his third year of organizing a suicide awareness rally in Lebanon, Dave Butler wasn’t going to let the coronvirus take away the focus of a different kind of pandemic that hits near to home for him.
Instead of marching, supporters for raising awareness about suicide drove their cars through downtown and used signs to get their message across on Sept. 26.
For the first two years, Butler used the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention to assist in organizing the “Out of the Darkness” walks, but he has since stepped away and formed his own nonprofit, Lebanon Area Mental Health Alliance.

REGINA LARA, right, stands with her chldren, Dominic and Piper, next to a sign for Brandon Butler, who took his life three years ago.
Photo courtesy of Dave Butler

“We want to start a family relief fund, so we are able to give $200-300 to families that suffer a loss,” Butler said. “They can take a few days off work and not worry about missing money on their paycheck.”
He also envisions starting a survivors support group, and possibly form a scholarship fund for a Lebanon High School student going into the mental health profession.
Eventually LAMHA will expand beyond suicide awareness to include mental health in general, Butler said. As a retired firefighter, he understands many emergency personnel, officers and veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.
He wants the public to know LAMHA is available to talk, help bring prevention and erase any stigma associated with suicide, he said.
“I continue to do outreach for those struggling and are thinking about taking their lives, (and) I have also started talking with families who have suffered a recent loss, and try to help them understand what emotions they will go through and help them understand that the loss of their loved one is not their fault.”