Denise Roe's son, Brandon, was 19 when he took his own life 18 years ago, she said Saturday.

"So this is a cause that's deep to my heart," Roe said on the trail by the North Platte River for the annual "break the silence" walk for suicide awareness and prevention at Crossroads Park.

"They need to make awareness more aware," she said. "It's such a tough killer. It's sad. It's hard."

Five year's after her son's death, her granddaughter's stepdad also died by suicide, she said.

Roe grew up in Casper, was gone for 36 years and recently returned. Her sister, Shelly McNaughton, asked her if she wanted to join the walk. Their friend Sierra Gallagher walked with them.

McNaughton said she wondered if the invite to Roe to walk would be emotionally draining and wondered if going on the walk would bring back the hard memories.

Five years ago, McNaughton's best friend's son shot himself in Casper, she said. "It was unexpected. I didn't know how to deal with it; I still don't."

The annual walk drew about 175-200 participants, down from the usual several hundred due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Brittlyn Adame of the Natrona County Suicide Task Force, which is based at the Mercer Family Resource Center.

A recent development in suicide awareness was the opening of the state's first suicide prevention hotline at the Central Wyoming Counseling Center.

The center had a table set up at the Crossroads Park. Center employee Ashlee Spurlin said the hotline has had a good response so far.

"Getting the word out is the big thing, that we have this resource," Spurlin said.

Wyoming had the second-highest rate of suicide in the nation in 2019.

In Natrona County, 15 people died by suicide as of August this year, according to the Natrona County Coroner's Office.

On the trail, Roe said the memories and pain never really go away.

"They say it's distant, but it's always right there," she said. "You think about them and what they've missed, just life, it's just precious."

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media
Enter your number to get our free mobile app

15 Things Every Casper 90s Kid Totally Remembers Doing