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Walk to prevent suicide
September 24, 2011
By Mary Pechar
The statistics are staggering: more than 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. That’s one person approximately every 15 minutes.
Although many suicide attempts are not reported, it is estimated that a million Americans make an attempt each year. More than 20 million suffer from depression.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults and the second leading cause of death for college students.
Suicide deaths among male veterans are twice that of other U.S. males, and active duty suicide attempts have increased six-fold in the last decade. Older Americans account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. Older men commit suicide six times as often as women.
In It’s a Wonderful Life, the angel, Clarence, tells George Bailey, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” We impact more people in more ways than we could ever begin to know. Standing against that hole are the organizers and participants in more than 200 Out of the Darkness Community Walks taking place around the country this year.
On Sunday, Oct. 1, the Kansas City Area Walk will be held at Berkley Riverfront Park at the intersection of Lydia Avenue and Front Street. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. with the walk beginning at 11:00 a.m. This is a fundraising walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Funds support vital research, education, advocacy, suicide prevention initiatives and programs to support those impacted by suicide and those suffering from mental illness.
Joining the Kansas City Walk will be special guest speaker Eric Hipple, outreach coordinator for the University of Michigan Depression Center. Hipple is the former NFL quarterback who wrote Real Men Do Cry in which he talks about dealing with every parent’s worst nightmare, the suicide of his son, the crippling effects it had on him and how he picked himself up and got his life back on track by helping others understand the signs, symptoms and dangers of depression.
“He is a down to earth, wonderful man,” said organizer Barb Nelson.
Barb is in the process of forming a local Kansas City Chapter of AFSP. She shared her heartrending story with the LS Tribune.
As a single mother of five sons, Joe, Jon, Justin, Jason and Jeremy, I have always been proud of every single one of them. My boys have been my life and are always in my heart.
Eight years ago, my 16-year-old son, Jason, chose to end his life. If that wasn’t tragic enough, six months and three weeks later, his 18-year-old brother, Justin, made the choice to be with his brother and end his life as well. Neither Jason’s brothers nor I saw any signs of depression leading up to his death. It wasn’t until after the funeral service that some of his classmates approached the family describing different signs of depression Jason would exhibit at school. There seemed to be two sides to Jason, one we saw at home and one he displayed at school. No one saw both sides of Jason. If we had, our lives would not have changed as tragically as they have.
Only through education can we help others see both sides of their loved ones. Education is a key goal in my passionate path through life. No one should ever experience the pain that Jason did nor should any family endure the loss of a child as my family has.
Suicide is an illness that not only robs the future from the individual who chooses to take their life, it also robs the survivors of the ability to cope and understand what went wrong. For years I have wondered how I could have prevented this horrible event from happening. I am using this event to help others prevent such tragedies from occurring in their lives.
Over the next few weeks the LS Tribune will bring this issue home to our community, sharing with you the mission and accomplishments of our Lee’s Summit Crisis Intervention Team, the stories and struggles of those left behind and additional resources dealing with both depression and suicide.
For more information, visit www.fsp.donordrive.com or Barb directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 913-620-4136. Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk. However, anyone who would like to participate can register in person at the walk. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 31.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
• Talking about wanting to die
• Looking for a way to kill oneself
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.
WHAT TO DO
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
• Do not leave the person alone
• Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
• Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
• Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional
Reach THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE, a free 24/7 service that can provide suicidal persons or those around them with support, information and local resources at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Mary Pechar can be reached at 816-582-5890 or email@example.com
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