Out of the Darkness 2015: Coming together to save lives

Suicide is a difficult subject to discuss.

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By AMY WOLFF | For The Record

Suicide is a difficult subject to discuss. There are many different views surrounding it based on religion, mental health information, and for a growing number, personal experience. Opinions aside, there is a very real truth to suicide. It is a completely preventable but unfortunately prevalent problem. “Suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined… This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status (AFSP).”

In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death with one person dying every 13.3 minutes from suicide, approximately 108 Americans every day. That makes nearly 40,000 lives in one year that could have been saved had they had the help they needed. Consider the number of people that would be a family member or friend of these thousands and the lives impacted by suicide grows tenfold. Survivors struggle with immense grief, never ending questions and guilt, wondering whether there was anything they could have done or said to keep their loved one here.

The sad truth is that many survivors had no idea there was any real concern for imminent danger. Ninety percent of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder that is a major factor in their death, depression being the most prevalent. Studies have found that depression is one of the most treatable of all psychiatric disorders with over 80 percent of those diagnosed responding positively to treatment.

“The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and other mood disorders (AFSP).”

There is a very real need for funding to assist with not only improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders related to suicide, but also in research for suicide prevention, the creation and distribution of educational programs, advocacy for public policy and so long as suicide continues, a most present need for support of the survivors of suicide loss.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leader in the fight against suicide. By 2025, AFSP hopes to reduce the annual suicide rate by twenty percent. On the large scale, it seems like a relatively small goal. However, with such a decrease there would be almost 8,000 more lives saved every year and thousands upon thousands more never having to feel the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. Until suicide is no more, these dedicated individuals will press on, relentlessly working towards their goal, raising the funds needed to make a world free from suicide a reality.

One way AFSP raises these funds is through their nationwide awareness walks including community walks, campus walks, and overnight walks. On Friday, September 18th at 7:00 p.m. Bismarck, North Dakota will be hosting its annual Out of the Darkness Walk at the capitol grounds to raise funds and awareness for this important cause. There will be speeches, music, food and of course, an emotional walk remembering those lost and those struggling. Hundreds of individuals will walk in honor of loved ones and in hopes of a better future.

This week is also National Suicide Prevention Week. In honor of this movement, please consider making a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. You can donate directly to the organization or you can also show your support for my participation in next week’s walk by donating to my page: afsp.donordrive.com/participant/amywolff. If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).