The Irish Embassy Pub is raising awareness about suicide rates in La Plata County through a medium some might not expect: rocks.
The “Clovers for Courage” campaign is intended to promote random acts of kindness with painted stones.
Cindy Coleman, marketing director for the restaurant, was inspired to join the suicide prevention effort after attending a family reunion in Missouri.
“When I was there in June, painted rocks were all my relatives could talk about,” she said. “When I started looking online, I read about rocks for suicide awareness.”
She brought the idea to Irish Embassy managers Phil Brennan and Sarah Donaldson.
“They said it was great idea and were very encouraging,” she said. “They told me, ‘Let’s donate five dollars for every rock someone else paints.’”
Coleman hid 25 rocks, painted with images of four-leaf clovers, along the Animas River Trail.
Someone who finds a lucky rock can take it into the Irish Embassy, 900 Main Ave., and redeem it for a prize, ranging from a free appetizer with a purchase of an entrée to a $100 gift card to the restaurant.
Coleman said the decision to hide the rocks along the river was made to combat any negative impressions about it.
“I feel like the river trail is a popular and easily accessible area,” she said. “But also, nationally, it is how we’ve been getting attention because it is the ‘River of Lost Souls.’ It is actually a really great place that people love to visit. It is an integral part of our town.”
The Irish Embassy Pub encourages others to paint and hide their own rocks. For every rock someone hides and posts to the Irish Embassy’s Facebook page, the restaurant will donate $5 to the Southern Ute Community Action Program’s QPR program.
QPR stands for “Question, Persuade and Refer.” The program trains people to engage with those at imminent risk of suicide and to connect them with professional help.
SUCAP Programs Developer Peter Tregillus said the donations are important to the future of the program.
“This response is really great. One of the things this will help fund is our marketing materials,” he said. “We’ve never had the money to print materials to hand out about our program.”
Coleman said a community-wide response, including reactions from businesses, is crucial to addressing suicide.
“Our community depends on our businesses. It is a give and take, and the Embassy is always looking for ways to support the community,” she said. “I think it would be great if other businesses want to jump on this idea. It is something small we can all do to help.”