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Running to Prevent Suicide

Long-distance runner Carol Seppilu has set an audacious goal for 2020: to run the full length of all three roads in Nome, an approximate distance of 229 miles.

Seppilu and Sherri Anderson, the continuing care coordinator for Norton Sound Health Corporation’s behavioral health services, recently visited the station. They discussed resources and help available to those who struggle with mental health. Their program Native Connections is a way for people to recover from depression and anxiety by returning to their Native culture.

Seppilu discovered the benefits of physical activity in her recovery from depression. She shared with listeners that 21 years ago, she barely survived an attempted suicide. After a spiritual experience in the ICU, she said she realized there was still more she needed to do.

Seppilu’s first hometown long-distance run this year was from Teller to Nome: a distance of 71.52 miles.

Seppilu said, “at the beginning of May, I was out running, and I completely broke down. I couldn’t stop crying… My heart was very heavy because we had lost some people to suicide very recently, at that time, and I just felt the overwhelming grief. I immediately got ahold of Tim and I said we should seriously consider doing a big run to give a message of hope out there because I felt like people needed something like that. He was up for it.”

She and her running partner, Dr. Tim Lemaire, had several wildlife encounters on the trail. Just a few miles outside of Nome, they met a bear sow with three cubs chasing a musk ox. Fortunately Lemaire’s wife had gone ahead of them in a car, and could alert the two runners to stop and be cautious.

Seppilu dedicated the run to prayer for an end to suicide in Western Alaska, as well as an end to COVID-19. “I prayed my most powerful prayers out there, and asked the Lord to bless the land and people with love, healing, and hope,” she wrote after finishing the run.

Image at top: Seppilu completed a 100-mile run in Resurrection Pass this summer. After the run, she wrote, “Every couple of minutes I shouted out in my language, ‘Kiyaghnaghem aflengakaqinkut qamaggluta’ which translates to, the Lord is taking care of us all.” Photo by Max Romey, used with permission.

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