We need to talk about sui­cide pre­ven­tion

Our Opin­ion

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

To many, it is a taboo sub­ject. To oth­ers, it is a ma­jor sin. But we need to rec­og­nize it for what it ul­ti­mately is: Sui­cide is a tragic loss of life, the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death for peo­ple 44 years old and younger, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion for Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion, and one that can be avoided.

Last Fri­day, the Mar yland In­de­pen­dent pub­lished a story about the AFSP Mary­land chap­ter’s an­nual South­ern Mary­land Out of the Dark­ness Com­mu­nity Walk, sched­uled to take place on Sept. 10. The pur­pose of the event is to help raise funds for the foun­da­tion’s outreach and ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, with a goal to re­duce the sui­cide rate across the coun­try by 20 per­cent by 2025.

In the story, lo­cal mem­bers shared their own per­sonal sto­ries of how they had been af­fected by sui­cide, be it the loss of a fam­ily mem­ber or their own per­sonal strug­gles with de­pres­sion and sui­cide at­tempts. Sui­cide car­ries an in­cred­i­ble stigma. Some view some­one who suc­ceeds in car­ry­ing out sui­cide as self­ish, while oth­ers quickly sym­pa­thize and wish they had known some­one was strug­gling so that they could have reached out to them and tried to get them help. We prob­a­bly know some­one in our own fam­ily or work­place that is wrestling with sui­ci­dal thoughts or who has even at­tempted to end their life, and we wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily see the warn­ing signs. With many tragic events hap­pen­ing around the world, the dis­cus­sion about men­tal ill­ness has come to the fore­front over re­cent years. It still doesn’t re­ceive the at­ten­tion, fund­ing and un­der­stand­ing as other mal­adies, and that, again, is be­cause of the stigma as­so­ci­ated with it. Peo­ple who are strug­gling with de­pres­sion can’t sim­ply “get over” what­ever is both­er­ing them. And no symp­toms of de­pres­sion are alike. Those of us who do not live with de­pres­sion of­ten find it dif­fi­cult to re­late with those who do suf­fer daily. While we don’t need to un­der­stand the why, we should em­pathize and of­fer sup­port.

Events like the Out of the Dark­ness Com­mu­nity Walk are good ways for us to band to­gether, seek unity and find un­der­stand­ing, a pos­i­tive way to try and re­move the stigma sur­round­ing the sub­ject of men­tal ill­ness. As walk co-chair Michelle Wood so ef­fec­tively stated in the ar­ti­cle, “This is what needs to hap­pen, us talk­ing here. Men­tal ill­ness needs to be on the fore­front like any other ill­ness. If your mind is sick, it stems into ev­ery­thing else.”

Those who wish to par­tic­i­pate in the walk can regis­ter at the AFSP web­site at www.afsp.donor­drive.com and the walk’s Face­book page, www.face­book. com/ Charles County O O TD Walk AF SP.

Let’s keep the dis­cus­sion go­ing.

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