According to data, more than 36,000 people died by suicide in 2009, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. It affects families, friends and whole communities.
In 2005, our son, Josh, joined the statistics. It left us devastated and asking "why," like so very many others who have been through this. We cannot begin to explain how this loss feels. The old adage, "Walk a mile in my shoes," applies here. For those who have, no explanation is necessary. We are not able to bring our son back. We can only now bring this "out of the darkness."
Since then we have tried to make it our mission to bring awareness so that other families and people who may be suffering in silence will get the help they need. We have educated ourselves and learned these facts.
The annual North Country Out of the Darkness Walk begins at the Olympic Speedskating Oval in Lake Placid.
Did you know?
Every 14.2 minutes, someone in the United States dies by suicide.
Nearly 1 million people make a suicide attempt every year.
If you go ...
What: North Country Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide awareness and prevention, with music and entertainment, food and refreshments, a 50-50 raffle and a memory board
When: Sunday, Oct. 7: registration 11:30 a.m., walk and ceremony 1 p.m., followed by walking around Mirror Lake
Where: Olympic Speedskating Oval, Lake Placid
Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
Most people with mental illness do NOT die by suicide.
Recent data puts yearly medical costs for suicide at nearly $100 million (2005).
Men are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Women attempt suicide three times as often as men.
Suicide rates are highest for people between the ages of 40 and 59.
White individuals are most likely to die by suicide, followed by Native American peoples.
With the suicide rate in this country trending upward, there is greater urgency to do more.
National Suicide Prevention Week begins today and culminates with World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10. Here are five ways to get involved, raise awareness about this public health problem and help save lives:
1. Take a moment to learn about suicide risk factors and warning signs at www.afsp.org.
2. Make a $10 donation to suicide prevention by texting "AFSP PLACID" to 85944 and reply "yes" to confirm your gift.
3. Join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Field Advocate program and work with the foundation to make suicide prevention a national priority.
4. Register a team or individually for the North Country Out of the Darkness Walk in Lake Placid by going to www.outofthedarkness.org, or call Deb at 559-335-3736. AFSP will hold more than 250 community walks across the country to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention.
5. If you have lost a loved one to suicide, please know you are not alone. For resources, visit www.afsp.org/survivngsuicideloss.
Most importantly, if you are in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Deb and Doug Jerdo live in Saranac Lake.