In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes. By the time you have completed reading this article and newspaper, a person will have taken his or her own life leaving behind grief, loss, heartache, anger, shame and, many times, unanswered questions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and most recent data, in 2010, suicide claimed the lives of 38,364 people in the United States. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. It is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18 to 65 and the second-leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individual ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. It is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status. There is no typical death by suicide.
Over a 20-year period from 1990 to 2010, suicide rates in the U.S. dropped and then rose again. In fact, in 2007, when American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsored the first Out of the Darkness Walk in Centre County, the 2005 rate was every 16.1 minutes.
AFSP strives to make a difference in those numbers. The foundation is dedicated to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide through the Out of the Darkness Community Walk. It is the only national nonprofit organization that combines suicide prevention, research and programs.
The Central Chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will host the eighth Out of the Darkness Community Walk on April 27 at Sidney Friedman Park, State College. The event will begin at 11 a.m. and includes live music, survivor and remembrance activities, speakers and a “We Remember Them” poem recitation culminating with the walk at 1 p.m.
The Out of the Darkness Walk symbolizes the steps we all have to take to save lives and bring mental health awareness and suicide prevention to light. We walk together, shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, to fight against the darkness of stigma, shame and silence.
Fifty percent of the funds raised at the Out of the Darkness Walk will be used locally to support survivors of suicide loss and to promote awareness and prevention. AFSP uses the remaining dollars to fund research to improve the community’s understanding of suicide, identify warning signs, and to increase awareness about depression and psychiatric illness that can lead to suicide; and support evidence based research and interventions. AFSP has provided almost $20 million in funds toward scientific investigation of the causes and prevention of suicide and the treatment of those at risk for suicide.
Join us April 27 at Sidney Friedman Park to take steps toward preventing suicide and to support our friends, family and neighbors who have lost a loved one to suicide. To register, visit outofthedarkness.org.
Shanon Quick is a co-chairwoman for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk.