John Moe, host of the award-winning hit podcast “The Hilarious World of Depression,” will speak at the fourth annual Polk County Suicide Awareness Walk.
The event, set for May 18 at Pine Park in Balsam Lake, is an opportunity to gather to remember loved ones lost to suicide, and to raise money in support of suicide prevention. The day includes a 5K walk and run, survivor memorials, mental health resources and a program featuring Moe.
The event benefits the Mental Health Task Force of Polk County (MHTF), a nonprofit organization that works to improve mental health in Polk County through education and innovative programming.
In addition to the podcast, Moe has authored three books: “Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth and Other Pop Culture Correspondences,” “The Deleted Emails Of Hillary Clinton,” and “Conservatize Me.” His writing has appeared in numerous humor anthologies as well as The New York Times Magazine, McSweeney’s, The Seattle Times, and other publications. He has hosted nationally distributed public radio programs such as Wits, Weekend America, and Marketplace Tech Report, and his radio work has been featured on Marketplace, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition.
The Walk also features “Make It OK,” a campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses. Event organizers aim to “spread the word, stop the silence and Make It OK to talk about mental health.”
The PCSAW was started by Tristan Divine, a Balsam Lake resident whose son Jordan died by suicide in August 2015. After participating in a suicide prevention walk in Minnesota the September after her son’s death, she decided to designate any future money raised in Jordan’s memory to support suicide prevention efforts in her community. Tristan, leading a group of volunteers, decided to start a walk in Polk County. Her vision is to bring people together as a community to raise money and help build awareness for suicide prevention in Polk County and in our schools, to give kids an outlet and encourage positive emotional health.
In three years, the PCSAW has attracted nearly 2,000 total participants and raised more than $100,000 in support of the MHTF.
The suicide awareness walk supports the Mental Health Task Force’s youth prevention programs including Teen Check, which offers emotional health screening to freshman at area high schools. In addition, proceeds from the PCSAW help fund a county-wide School-Based Mental Health Collaborative which provides resources, training and support for school mental health services, and a student support program, which offers group counseling designed to meet the needs of students specific to each school. Money raised also provides Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training for students and staff at area schools.
Individual registration is $10 for adults, children are invited to participate for free. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Pre-walk events begin at 8:30 a.m. and includes team photos, guest speakers, and other information. The Walk begins at 9 a.m. John Moe appears at the conclusion of the walk at 11 a.m. Registration is also available online at mentalthealthpolk.org.
Participants are invited to raise money in support of the event through personalized social fundraising pages. These individual campaigns are created through the MHTF website. Fundraisers can add their own photos and text and send website links to their fundraising page to family, friends and co-workers asking for their support. To register, start a fundraising page, or for event information, go to mentalhealthpolk.org.