Despite experiencing some of the hottest weather of the year, a group of more than 25 motorcyclists went on a ride of approximately 100 miles through southern Minnesota July 15.

While riding motorcycle in and of itself is not much of a story, the motivation behind the ride does provide the narrative.

That Saturday morning the group of riders representing a variety of communities in the region rode to raise awareness of an issue that is of great concern – suicide. 

The ride was hosted by the Greater Redwood Area Suicide Prevention (GRASP) group as a way to raise funds and awareness.

“This group started about four years ago,” said Jenny Scoates, GRASP board member and ride coordinator. “Suicide touches everybody.”

As a former emergency room nurse, Scoates said she has seen the tremendous impact suicide can have, and talking about suicide, rather than ignoring it in the hope that it will just go away, is what she said must happen in order to truly address and help to prevent it.

GRASP has provided educational opportunities in the community over the years, added Scoates, and it is willing to provide more of those outreach activities.

Working with schools to help students see they have options is part of the mission of GRASP, said Scoates, and getting the message into as many schools in the area as often as it can is the group’s goal.

“Education does make a difference,” said Scoates.

While helping educate students about suicide is a priority, Scoates said data is showing one of the groups where suicide is most prevalent is in the elderly.

That, she said, is about facing the realities of loneliness. When a person who has spent most of their life with someone else and that person is suddenly gone it leaves a huge hole in the life of the person who has been left behind.

“We are good at being there for them in the first days after their loss,” said Scoates, “but we also need to be there in the weeks and months after. We need to stay in touch with them.”

For GRASP, efforts are not about putting a band-aid on the issue, said Scoates. What it does is address the bigger issues of mental health care to help people who are in need.

To find out more about suicide prevention and GRASP, visit its Web site at www.grasprwf.org.