Hundreds participate in Manatee Glens Walk for Life in Palmetto

By Randi Nissenbaum, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, September 27, 2014, 5:18 PM EDT

Hundreds of people gathered at the Manatee Glens Walk for Life in Palmetto on Saturday in honor of those who have lost someone to suicide, or attempted suicide themselves.

It's the twelth year the event has been held and nearly 800 members of the community participated.

The walk is both emotional and inspirational for many.

Chloe Ostenson, 14, lost her father in a car accident. Because of her loss, she said wanted to kill herself.

“I was always saying, 'how could God really just do this to a kid?,” Ostenson said.

To make matters worse, Ostenson was also bullied at school.

“I was bullied to the point where I didn’t care any more and I didn’t feel anything,” she said.

Luckily she eventually got the help she needed through Manatee Glens and is now putting herself in position to help others. She spoke at the walk and shared her story.

“I want to help kids who are in my position cause I feel like I can help them with all of my experience,” Ostenson said.

Barbara Alpert came to the walk for comfort. Suicide has always been a part of her life. Her father hung himself when she was little and just a few years ago her sister killed herself. Barbara said she has tried to take her own life six times.

“On the night that I was about to commit suicide for the sixth time, I ended up with a heart attack and that changed my whole life,”Alpert said.

On a hospital stretcher, she decided she wanted to live. So she got help and now walks in the Walk For Life every year.  She says she no longer feels alone.

“You will never heal unless you open up,” Alpert said.

Sally and Jeff Tyson wore pins with pictures of their daughter Julia.

“She was a beautiful, accomplished 25 year old," said Sally Tyson. "She was a teacher.”

But Julia’s internal struggles got the best of her and she took her life a few years ago.

“We marveled at her and we did not know that the whole time she was struggling,” Tyson said.

Comforted by one another and the message of hope, the walk intends to spread awareness so that others know help is out there.

Manatee Glens helps 16,000 people every year. Many of their services are free to the public.