The Inland Empire Initiative for Suicide Prevention and Awareness was held Saturday, Oct. 27 at Red Hill Park in Rancho Cucamonga by a Christian-based organization known as the Suicide Watchmen Prayer Team.
The focus of the rally was to break the silence and stigma regarding suicide in the community.
Spoken word poetry, music, art and educational flyers on suicide were provided for guests throughout the event.
Certain obstacles did not allow the group to host the event during September, which is nationally recognized to be Suicide Prevention Month. However, they were able to host on the day of the two year anniversary for Kasey Latta’s online ministry.
Kasey Latta, prophetic bible teacher, Watchmen member, and event organizer, holds several social media ministries on Periscope for her Christian followers.
Being highly active on social media, Latta has encountered others of the same faith around the country who were struggling in their daily lives.
“Me being a person of faith and encourager, I got involved in these people’s lives and cared about what’s going on with them. I noticed in the time I was doing that, people were always coming to me for encouragement because they were having suicidal thoughts. That’s kind of how it all started,” said Latta.
Everyone that attended is dedicated to their beliefs in the fight against suicide.
Latta continues, “God told me ‘hey, why don’t you start a prayer team’, so I started a prayer team, The Suicide Watchmen, a group of 12 women who pray every two hours around the country for a 24 hour period. We pray every week for different focus groups affected by suicide.”
One group in particular consists of people from the Inland Empire which made it very personal for her.
“I was at home in August and got information that three Rancho Cucamonga high school students and one elementary student committed suicide,” Latta explained, “Two weeks later, Pastor Andrew Stoecklein in Chino Hills killed himself and I realize this was all in the Inland Empire within a month and that’s just what we know of. I took it personally, this is my community!”
This was one of her main reasons to create the Inland Empire Initiative under the Suicide Watchmen.
Mental health professionals, suicide survivors, and other guest speakers were also present.
Few speakers gave their testimonies on what it is like to be suicidal or knowing someone who was. Others provided their professional tips on how one could handle the matter.
“When you see changes in the way someone acts, the way they behave and how they present themselves, that is a time to ask what is going on with them,” said guest speaker Alex Blaimes, a graduate student studying psychology, “They may not let you know the first, second, or third time so that would be a time to ask someone else they know. Don’t stop asking because you never know whose efforts might be the one to impact and get through to them.”
While prayer is a core of what the group does, they would like others to know that modern medicine and therapy is also essential in prevention efforts.
“There should be mental health professionals in church. I’m a firm believer in God but some people need more than prayer; you need medicine and therapy. Whether it’s prayer, medicine and prayer, therapy and prayer, or all three. That is probably what you need to not go down that road,” Latta said.
In the end, according to Latta, it is important to always take someone seriously when they feel this way and ask for more than what is being shown.