Suicide is a discussion most people would rather avoid, but learning the signs that someone may be thinking about taking their own life, knowing how to get them the proper care, and changing the way we look at suicide, are just a few ways we can get the discussion started.
We have all been affected by suicide in one way or another. Perhaps a family member is battling depression. Maybe you have a friend who uses drugs or alcohol to deal with life and they have begun to abuse them. Maybe you have suffered a loss and feel that life isn't worth living anymore. Whatever the cause, life becomes so difficult for some people, they begin to believe that suicide is a viable option.
Last year alone, Iowa attributed 433 deaths to suicide, according to idph.iowa.gov. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34 in our state. But, while the numbers are alarming, there is Hope; a local organization is doing its best to raise awareness and funds to educate the public about how we can prevent suicide from happening to those we care about.
The HOPEwalk does this through Honoring (those we have lost), Openness (to start the conversation to help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide), Prevention, and Education. The primary goal of the walk is to raise awareness. Funds that are raised stay local to support suicide prevention programs and initiatives in and around Linn County that meet and support the goals and mission statement of the HOPEwalk.
HOPEwalk of Cedar Rapids will hold its annual walk Saturday, Sept. 29 in Cherry Hill Park in NW Cedar Rapids. The event's location has been changed due to wet conditions at Robins Lake.
One way HOPEwalk educates the public is by inviting speakers to talk to the community about their experience with suicide. This year they have invited Kevin Hines. Kevin was 19 years old when he attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then, Kevin has been on a mission to use his story to help others find recovery and stay alive. He has become a prominent international suicide prevention speaker and advocate.
Suicide is Becoming an Epidemic
Suicide is on the rise across the nation. According to an article in the Des Moines Register, Iowa's suicide rate increased faster than most states' between 1999 - 2016. The article stated that a study from the Centers for Disease Control showed that Iowa saw a 36.2 percent increase during that time.
Contributing to the problem is a lack of options for Iowans with mental illness, according to the Des Moines Register article. At least eight Iowa hospitals have closed inpatient psychiatric units in recent years, including state mental hospitals in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda. The state also lacks qualified physicians who can treat mental illness.
The CDC stated that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a diagnosed mental health condition, and those who should seek help, don’t. The study also found that there are many reasons why someone would want to end their life, including relationship problems or loss, substance misuse, physical health problems and job, money, legal or housing stress.
If you are overwhelmed with life’s challenges, there are several resources you can utilize:
How to help someone who is suicidal