We need to talk about suicide prevention
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.