River Joy Johnson, 17, has teamed up with other teens at Common Grounds: A Taos Teen Co-Op and adult supporters at Help Outreach Taos and from other groups to sprinkle the town and the Río Grande Gorge bridge with Hope Notes for people contemplating suicide.
"I want people to know that they are loved, they are not alone and cared for," said Johnson. "Because I know how it feels to feel like no one cares or understands. It is an unpleasant feeling that I want to keep away from as many people as I can."
The Taos community is invited to write messages of encouragement to others. There will be a table set up by Johnson, Common Grounds and HOT on Bent Street during the Bonfires on Bent Street event Saturday (Dec. 8) from 4-7 p.m. People can write notes and have them laminated there. Then they can post them on bulletin boards around town or bring the notes to the Gorge Bridge visitor parking area on Sunday (Dec. 9) at 12:45 p.m.
The Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery will have a blessing ceremony for suicide prevention on the bridge at 1 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 9). After their ceremony, Johnson will lead those gathered with Hope notes to attach them to the bridge.
"We all know that the holiday season is not the most wonderful time of the year for everybody," said Jill Cline of Help Outreach Taos. " Common Grounds and HOT are both focused increasing person to person connections for teens and adults, so that people know there are community resources available, and people who truly care."
The Hope Note effort will continue with fliers and notes placed on bulletin boards around town because the bridge is not the main way people take their own lives. As Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe noted, while the suicides at the bridge receive a lot of attention, more people in the county die by firearms.
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