Reflecting on "Ripple Effect: Walk for Suicide Prevention 2023" - Little Tokyo Service Center

Reflecting on “Ripple Effect: Walk for Suicide Prevention 2023”

By Matthew Yonemura

d atkinson walk at ripple effect

I really wanted this event to succeed for D Atkinson.

As the Changing Tides Program Coordinator at Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), it’s been an honor to plan “Ripple Effect: Walk for Suicide Prevention” these past two years. It’s truly a privilege to build relationships with families who lost a loved one to suicide, and who choose to honor them at this event. They put so much trust into Changing Tides to help keep their loved one’s legacy alive, and have so much faith in our program’s various mental health initiatives.

And while their stories and experiences have always deeply moved me, this year hit a little closer to home. Last August, a cherished colleague at LTSC died by suicide. It was a shock to most of us, who didn’t know they were struggling under the surface of their sunny disposition. D Atkinson (they/them) meant a lot to LTSC, and a lot to me. They built an environment in our organization that prioritized inclusion by heading the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) workgroup, and led by example in every interaction they had with colleagues, community members and clients. LTSC formed a team at this year’s Ripple Effect to walk in loving memory of D. And for me, it was empowering to feel that I could take effective action against something as daunting and intangible as suicide.

kevin koyanagi walk at ripple effectWhen Ripple Effect ended and our volunteers had cleaned everything up, those of us lingering had a chance to visit the various banners representing walks that took place that day. We stood in silence and admired the many signatures and heartfelt messages penned on the banners: “We love you Kevin”, “Stay Up, Be Well”, “We miss you Nick”. I picked up a marker to sign the banners myself, and left a simple message on the banner for D Atkinson’s “29 minutes of walking for 29 years of life” banner: “Thank you, D.”

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