Lilly Stagner

Lilly's Lope for HOPE is named in memory of Lilly Stagner.

Mental health is on the forefront of many peoples’ minds. We hear almost daily of another suicide, or of school violence somewhere in our country.

Suicide amongst the youth is the second-leading cause of death. The number of deaths for individuals between 15 and 19 years of age is at the highest level since 2000. On average over the last five years the rates have risen 10% each year.

So, what do we do? What is at the root of the “why?” I wish that there was a simple answer, and a simple solution. There is not. I do believe, though, that there are many ways we as a community can help prevent and recognize suicidal people among us ... and get them the help they need.

I have been vocal and active regarding youth suicide prevention and education since my 14-year-old niece completed her suicide in October 2013. That event has changed my life. I changed how I spoke with my own two children regarding suicide, and have gone on to teach many classes for both students and teachers that instruct others how to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts, how to get them to open up and seek help, and then how to assist them with finding a professional to speak with.

This class is called QPR and you are able to learn more about it on my website www.lillyslope.com

On Oct. 12 at 10 a.m., at Philomath City Park, we will be having our sixth annual Lilly’s Lope for HOPE where we will have a mental health fair, silent auction, and 5-kilometer fun run/walk to raise funds for our youth in our communities.

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Each year I have tried to include another school in Benton County to receive the funding for school assemblies, counseling needs and other suicide prevention education. This year I am so excited to add the Monroe School District into the mix.

We will now cover Philomath, Corvallis, Alsea, Blodgett, Kings Valley and Monroe. I am looking forward to adding Albany next year! We typically raise between $9,000 and $10,000 each year. It is always such a blessing for me to see the involvement from our community businesses and members each year. I am so blessed.

I would love to see our numbers double this year! We had an incredibly generous donation from the ONA Nurses of Good Samaritan Regional Medical center which will cover all the major expenses associated with the run. I have been a registered nurse at the Corvallis hospital for 22 years, and was overwhelmed with gratitude at their generosity and truly compassionate attitude with regards to the youth in our communities. I am proud to be a nurse and am even prouder of my union and co-workers for their loving attitudes.

Any other donations or sponsorships would be so appreciated, as they will 100% go in to the fund to support the schools and the needs of the students. Please feel free to contact me at paulamay221@gmail.com to see how you can help. It is so healing, and of such importance!

I look so forward to seeing you at the run on Oct. 12.

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Paula May is the organizer of Lilly’s Lope for HOPE. She can be reached via email at paulamay221@gmail.com.