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For Suicide Prevention Week, Omaha community ‘Chalks It Up For More Tomorrows’

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 4:36 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Across the City of Omaha, messages of hope and inspiration are scattered on sidewalks and outside of businesses to bring awareness to National Suicide Prevention Week.

The initiative, called “Chalk It Up For More Tomorrows Nebraska,” was started by The Kim Foundation, a local nonprofit organization that advocates for mental health resources and awareness.

“Chalk It Up” encourages community members to use their creativity, spend time outside, and offer hope to others in the community who may be struggling with their mental health or with thoughts of suicide.

When the initiative was announced, there were over 5,000 requests for chalk and other supplies, according to Julia Hebenstreit, the foundation’s executive director.

“Just to see the number of people — from large corporations to health systems to schools and churches and just people all across the board — coming together and wanting to do this. So we were excited about that,” she said. “We also had over 30,000 promotional items requested that we distributed last Thursday as well.”

Hebenstreit said simple inspirational messages and reminders can change the course of someone’s day, or even someone’s life.

“It shows that all of us can play a role in suicide prevention even if we aren’t impacted directly, and we never know when we will be impacted directly by that so it’s a reminder for people to join together, step up, and understand that we all do play a role in saving lives from suicide.”

The Kim Foundation also commissioned a freelance chalk artist, Kelly Bast, to create a mural outside their building on the Project Harmony campus near 120th and Q streets.

“I think there’s so many people and you might not know what’s going on in their lives, and if my art can inspire someone or bring someone hope, I think that’s a beautiful thing, and a little thing I can do to brighten someone’s day,” Bast says.

Bast has been in love with art since she was a child, and is often commissioned to do portraits of families or dogs.

“It’s why I’ve continued with art, its really special to draw something that’s so emotional and has a personal connection for them, and so to do something like this and make a difference in someone’s life potentially, even just for one person where it clicks and it rings true to them, I think that’s super powerful, and that’s the power of art.”

How to get help

CALL: If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 to be connected with a local provider who can offer resources.

TEXT: You can also reach the crisis hotline by texting 741741.

ONLINE RESOURCES: More Tomorrows offers crisis resources, including warning signs of suicide and talking points to help you or a loved one deal with thoughts or ideas of suicide.

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