On Friday (Feb. 26), members of the Taos community held a candlelight vigil to remember those recently lost to teen suicide. With the hardships of isolation and sickness brought on by the effects of COVID-19, many are struggling to find consolation and a sense of community.

In an effort to raise awareness of the need for mental health care and to honor those recently lost, Taoseños met (socially distanced) at the Taos County Courthouse. Experiences were shared and candles were lit.

These stories and prayers addressed the pain so many are feeling and reminded us to be grateful for the life we have. Community leader and director of Golden Willow Retreat Ted Wiard, who spoke at the event, said, "We are here to remember each person we have lost. May the peace we find allow the flicker of light to reside in us every day while we continue to reach out to the community."

For Wiard, the event was a chance to help a younger generation erase the stigma around mental health and depression; to encourage others to speak out and seek help, "extending our hands to allow others to rise."

The vigil, which adhered to COVID-19 safety protocols, was supported by Golden Willow Counseling, St. James Episcopal Church, Taos County Sheriff's Department and Common Grounds: A Taos Teen Co-op.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). In New Mexico, call the Crisis and Access Line, toll-free: 1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474). Call the Peer-to-Peer Warmline is 1-855-466-7100 from 3:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m., or text from 6 p.m. - 11 p.m. You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

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