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Walk to Save Lives is June 12

Will focus on awareness, prevention and survivors

May 30, 2010
Messenger News

Someone in the U.S. dies by suicide every 16 minutes, which means suicide claims more than 33,000 lives each year, according to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. It's an uncomfortable topic, but it's not one to be ignored because it isn't going away.

It is one thing to know about the devastating effects of suicide, but it is more than necessary to be aware of them. Suicide can be intertwined with psychiatric disorders such as depression, but that is not always the case. Some experts believe that things such as impulsivity, which is a tendency to act on aggressive urges without thought to the consequence, can be a factor just like things such as anxiety. The cause of an individual suicide is invariably more complicated than a recent painful event like the loss of a job or a recent break-up of a relationship. It is believed that most people usually attempt suicide to block unbearable emotional pain, which is caused by a wide variety of problems. It's more than just depression that can cause a person to take this fatal toll on their life.

Not only is it important to be aware of suicide, but it is significant to be able to prevent the suicide of someone you love. It is hard to spot the signs of suicide because they can be acted on things such as impulsivity. If people could understand what some of the symptoms are, they might be able to prevent more suicide. At least 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illness such as major depression, bipolar depression, or some other depressive illness, including; alcohol and drug abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, or some other stress related disorder and personality disorders. A person attempting suicide is often so distressed that he or she never thinks about his or her other options that lie ahead of him or her in life. People can prevent this tragedy by endeavoring to understand just what people are feeling and helping them look for better choices they could make.

Suicide can affect everyone in different ways. The people that are left behind are just as affected and have to deal with the aftermath of the ordeal. Historian Arnold Toynbee once wrote, "There are always two parties to a death; the person who dies and the survivors who are bereaved."

Everyone deals with surviving a suicide in different ways, but what the person who has committed suicide doesn't ever think about the people they are hurting. Suicide survivors suffer in many different ways:

1. First because they need to mourn the loss of someone who has died;

Fact Box

In the works

Current or recent American Foundation for Suicide Prevention projects include:

The Interactive Screening Program, which has developed and pilot-tested an interactive, web-based method of reaching out to students at risk of suicide, and encouraging them to get help.

The Physician Depression and Suicide Prevention Project, which works with a range of other groups and professional organizations to address the disproportionately high rates of suicide among physicians and physicians in training.

The LGBT Depression and Suicide Prevention Project, an initiative aimed at reducing suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations.

The Billboard Campaign looks to educate Americans about the serious nature of depression, and to urge those clinically depressed to see their doctor.

2 Second, because they have experienced an unexpected, sudden death; and

3. Third, because they are shunned by a society unwilling to enter into the pain of their grief.

Sheila Freeman, who lost her son, Jake Rautanen, due to suicide this past October, knows just how it feels to survive this devastating ordeal.

"The hardest part was having to tell his 7-year-old sister that her brother was gone and is never coming back," said Freeman. "Some days I feel like he will just come through the doors and be home for the rest of the night."

There is more than just family that has to deal with these pains. It's best friends, girlfriends, classmates, everyone that person has been touched by.

Some people pass through a normal grief process and heal quickly, but some studies suggest the suicide survivors often experience more guilt, rejection, shame and isolation than those who grieve other deaths. It is not a slow passing of death that you can begin to cope with at an unhurried pace, but an abrupt death that you have no time to prepare for.

The survivors are left with the penetrating question of "why" it happened. People surviving suicide just don't "get over it." It's something that will follow them for their entire lives.

After her son's sudden death, Freeman felt the need to bring awareness to this town because of the recent trend of suicides. She has organized an Out of the Darkness Campus Walk for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. The walk will take place at Dodger Stadium on June 12 with a 10 a.m. start time.

"The primary purpose of having this walk in Fort Dodge is to raise money in our community, as well as surrounding communities to get much-needed material and resources to help us out with this devastating tragedy called suicide," said Freeman.

Everyone needs to become aware of the problems that are facing people everyday. They need to be able to prevent these things from happening and they need to know that there are survivors of this tragedy all around them.

Hannah Minion is a student at Fort Dodge Senior High.



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