BANGOR, Maine — A group of Bangor High School students has organized a 1½-mile walk for this weekend to raise awareness about teen suicide.

The event appears to be the first time students, rather than teachers and administrators, have organized a community event aimed at educating people about suicide prevention, Principal Paul Butler said Monday. The walk, called Steps for Souls, is slated for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The idea for the walk was sparked by the death by suicide earlier this year of a classmate, said Katie Strout, 17, of Bangor, who helped to organize the event.

“After that, we didn’t think enough was being done so that students felt comfortable and safe with the loss,” she said. “When suicide happens, people keep it pretty low key. But we need to talk about it. The reasons behind it need to be address by parents and schools need to address that too.”

Strout, a junior, said that the parents of five students — three from Bangor, one from Brewer and one from Hermon — who have died by suicide between 2015 and May 1, 2017, would be recognized at the event. No family members are scheduled to speak.
According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the second leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24 in Maine and nationwide between 2010 and 2012, the most recent years for which data were available.

Forty three teens between the ages of 13 and 18 died of suicide in Maine between 2011 and mid-2016, according to the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Saturday’s event will begin in the gym with speakers, including Katy Coffin, a survivor who attempted suicide in 2012. Now, 25, she has urged depressed teens to give life “one more day” before giving up hope.


Strout and co-organizer Sarah Danby, the daughter of Bangor Daily News editorial cartoonist George Danby, said that the signs of suicide may be familiar to teachers and school staff, but not to most teens.

Danby, 15, of Bangor said that her friend who died earlier this year posted on Instagram that he would not be taking a test the next day because he planned on taking his own life.

“No one took him serious,” she said earlier this month. “We want to help students learn the signs of what’s going on with teens who may be suicidal and how to help them.”

Strout said that support from the community “has been incredible.” Businesses in Greater Bangor have donated food, snacks and drinks for the event, she said. Students and community members have volunteered to help out.

“It’s been the most humbling experience any of us have had to see the community coming together for this one cause,” Strout said. “It turns out that many people have been affected by suicide.”

To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit