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Staff photo by Fritz Busch Participants do yoga at the Shine The Light Suicide Awareness and Prevention event at German Park Saturday.

NEW ULM — Attendees at the Shine the Light Suicide Awareness and Prevention event on Saturday were presented with a number of ways to raise mental health awareness and prevent suicide.

Hosted by Brown County Yellow Ribbon, the program included participation in yoga, meditation and kickboxing.

The new employee at the Ulm Clinic, Dr. Bryana Andert spoke about medical aspects of mental health. Nutritionist Sue Schommer spoke about nutritional aspects.

Materials distributed included stress management tips, sunflower seeds, candy, crayons, information on how to respond to calls for help, and mental health resources.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture provided information on managing farm and rural stress, anxiety, depression and anger.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Michelle Fischer Cartier, a former resident of New Ulm, leads a yoga class at the Shine The Light Suicide Awareness and Prevention event at German Park on Saturday.

“The opportunity to graduate and say goodbye is sometimes stolen” said Anders. “Sometimes when we think about survivors and losses, we don’t think about how heavy it is to feel. If you haven’t experienced it, you might not fully understand it. It’s almost always very unexpected.”

Andert said the need for community support is really important to make people feel seen and heard.

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Andert read a poem called “wild geese” from Maria Oliver:

“You don’t have to be good. You don’t have to walk a hundred miles on your knees in the desert and repent. You just have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

“Tell me your desperation and I will tell you mine.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch After a walk on the bike path from German Park, participants in Saturday’s Shine the Light Suicide Awareness and Prevention event write messages of hope at Art Wall Park in New Ulm.

“Meanwhile, the world keeps turning. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of rain move across the landscapes, across the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.

“Meanwhile, high up in the clean blue air, the wild geese are migrating back home.

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calling to you like wild geese, rugged and exciting – over and over again to herald your place in the family of things.”

Diet helps with physical and emotional health, according to Schommer.

“If you think about it, things seem to get worse when you’re not getting enough sleep.” said Schommer. “The same goes if you don’t eat well. We all know that dealing with anxiety and depression is exhausting, both for those going through it and for supporters.”

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She said all food groups bring different nutrients to the table.

“There are no really bad foods. But there are foods we should be eating more often and foods we should be eating less often.” said Schommer. “Getting more fruits and vegetables can make a difference. Eating more omega-3s, fish oil, and breakfast can make a difference.”

She said carbohydrates, protein, multivitamins and minerals are helpful, and in addition to zinc, magnesium probiotics and prebiotics are important.

Schommer said refined sugar products shouldn’t be eaten as often and can lead to depression and anxiety.

“We all know it’s hard to eat healthy and keep our lifestyle healthy,” She added. “We can also get caught in a downward spiral where we don’t eat, sleep and exercise, which makes us more tired.”

Schommer said it’s important for people not to eat for emotional reasons when dealing with depression or anxiety; or some people completely lose their appetite.

“Sometimes you just don’t care if you eat well or not.” She said. “Sometimes it’s small, frequent meals with snacks. Sometimes I encourage people to set a timer every two or three hours.”

She suggested drinking nutritional substitutes when eating is not possible and eating foods from all food groups.

“If you’re not very good with veggies and fruits, multivitamins and minerals are fine for a backup plan, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for veggies.” said Schommer.

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She urged caution with supplements, which she said could interfere with medications.

“Check with your provider first. The other thing is that they can be expensive. If you don’t know if they work or not, you could be wasting a lot of money.” said Schommer. “If it sounds too good to be true. It is possible. Try it. If it works, great. If not, stop working with it.”

Schommer said it’s okay to eat cake or sweets sometimes, but in moderation.

Volunteers are needed by the Brown County Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. Visit for more information.

If you are in crisis, call 988 or text.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed to [email protected].)

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