Two friends raise awareness about suicide prevention programs on a cross-country bicycle trip

Two friends from Arizona on a cross-country bicycle tour will stop in Oklahoma City this weekend to meet with area representatives about suicide prevention programs.
BY LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN lbrinkman@opubco.com Published: May 19, 2012
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Two friends from Arizona are on a 7,179-mile mission that's coming through Oklahoma City this weekend.

The pair, who met by chance two years ago, connected over each losing a brother to suicide. They are now on a cross-country bicycle ride and mission to raise awareness of communities' suicide prevention programs.

Thomas Brown, 34, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Zachary Chipps, 31, of Tempe, Ariz., will stop in Oklahoma City on Saturday and stay in the area for a few days as part of their 21-state, 100-city tour.

Brown and Chipps will meet Saturday with representatives from HeartLine, which offers the 2-1-1 line for social services, and others in a round-table discussion about local efforts to help those who are considering suicide and families affected by the tragedy, said Rachel Yates, HeartLine's director of suicide prevention and outreach programs.

Yates will share with them how HeartLine answers local calls to the national suicide prevention lifeline 24 hours a day, the 2-1-1 phone line connecting people to social services and the Oklahoma City organization's suicide prevention programs in schools, called Healthy Education for Life Programs.

“This bike ride is kind of like a fact-finding mission,” Brown said in an interview on the road from Tulsa on Friday. “We're learning so much what communities are doing in terms of awareness and ‘post-vention,'” which is support for survivors.

They are also filming video and taking photos for a documentary about the subject that they will produce when they are finished with the ride by the end of September.

Brown said that he and Chipps met while working the same shift in a park as part of their jobs for the city of Scottsdale parks and recreation department. It was the same park where Brown's brother was working before he died in 2001.

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HOW TO HELP

If you are involved in a suicide prevention or awareness program in Oklahoma City or Norman and are interested in participating in HeartLine 2-1-1's round-table discussion with Thomas Brown and Zachary Chipps on Saturday afternoon, send an email for details to Rachel Yates, HeartLine's director of suicide prevention and outreach programs, at ryates@heartlineoklahoma.org. For more information about their journey and about how to donate to it, go to risephoenix.org.

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