Dunham Cellars

In the absence of its annual late summer Dunham Days celebration, Walla Walla winery Dunham Cellars created a different way to raise funds for suicide prevention efforts.

Operators of the Airport District winery had to cancel what is typically a celebration of food, wine, art and live music due to COVID-19. But as they turned their attention to sales of a limited-edition Dunham Days magnum, the overwhelming support led to a sellout on all 100 bottles, raising $15,049, co-owner Joanne Dunham said.

The funds are dedicated to Reach Out Walla Walla, a Walla Walla County suicide prevention initiative.

“As we drew closer to the start of summer, we knew that cancelling Dunham Days was inevitable. However, we also knew that it was important to still to find a way to support suicide prevention efforts in our community,” Dunham said in a prepared statement. “This pandemic continues to affect each of us in different way, and it is important to remember that no one is truly alone. Mental health needs to be a priority, now more than ever.”

The effort honors the late Eric Dunham, one of the winery’s founders. 

According to information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, provided through the announcement, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those 10-34 in the state and third leading cause for those 35-44.

Reach Out Walla Walla started in 2016 as a direct response to an increase in youth suicides in the Walla Walla Valley. It expanded last year with a peer-to-peer program called Men in the Middle.

“When analyzing the suicide data for Walla Walla County, we found a disturbing trend: we are losing men in the middle age group to suicide more than any other age… There is an integration that is happening in behavioral health that is trying to braid together mental and physical health. We need to address whole person health, which includes mental health,” said Program Coordinator Peggy Needham, in the announcement.

For information on suicide prevention efforts in Walla Walla, contact Needham at 509-524-2684. Those in crisis, should contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.