‘It’s all about love’: Free suicide prevention training to be held at Garden of Angels this weekend

‘It’s all about love’: Free suicide prevention training to be held at Garden of Angels this weekend
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Joanne Alt has owned and operated Garden of Angels at her home in Portage for the past five years. She started it as a way to cope with the loss of her husband, Scott, who died by suicide in October 2014.

“The purpose of the garden is to spread love and hope to precious people,” Alt said. “A safe place to be with your emotions and losses. Pick some flowers to spread love to people who are struggling with life.”

This Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Alt is inviting the public to her home and garden for free suicide prevention training.

“The garden has helped so many precious people,” Alt said. “There are miracles that happen in this space. There is unconditional love, support and lots of hugs; a place to leave some of your worries, to breathe, to be heard, to talk about our loved ones we have lost from suicide.”

At the training this weekend, a free Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) class will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m Saturday on how to potentially save a life.

“This class is to take action, to get educated about the signs of suicide,” Alt said. “Resources to reach out for help. We sometimes put off getting educated until it is too late. We want to be part of the change of hope. This is how we do it.”

The class will be led by Susan Lorenz, who is a registered nurse and health officer with Columbia County Health and Human Services.

Alt said this weekend, she is also raising money for Prevent Suicide Columbia County. She said the weekend is about support for those who have lost someone to suicide. The public is invited to bring a photo of their loved one. Alt said there will be rock painting, information, flowers and a prairie walk in memory of loved ones. Alt said she hopes she can help others heal in the garden in the same way the garden has helped her heal from the loss of her husband.

“I am so touched by not being alone on this journey of grief from suicide,” she said. Alt described the survivors of victims of suicide as a “community of support and understanding. It’s all about love.”

The Garden of Angels is located at 11360 Highway 33, just west of Portage.

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