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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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Walk casts light on dark reality of suicide

Despite the heat, hundreds of walkers turned out for the Out of the Darkness suicide walk yesterday.

The Out of the Darkness walks are a program of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. The group, headquartered in New York, is dedicated to the research, education and prevention of suicide.

“Over 600 walkers and volunteers signed up before the walk,” said Pam Butler, Wood County’s Health Commissioner.

Butler also later noted that an additional 150 to 200 people signed up at the event, making it the largest walk in Ohio this year.

Even before the walk had started, the AFSP had already raised more than $11,000 from the Bowling Green event, with more expected to be contributed after all of the pledges were collected.

The AFSP holds anywhere between 110 to 120 of these walks annually across America.

Liz Atwell, area director for Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, said 50 percent of the funds raised go to national research. She also said that up to 50 percent goes back to the communities if they work with AFSP.

Atwell used to work in the mental health field, but left to start working with AFSP when a patient she was working with, a close family friend and a colleague all committed suicide.

The walk started in downtown Bowling Green at the city park at 1 p.m.

There were several speakers who were there to thank the runners and to educate them about why they were walking.

“I hesitate to use stats because each number is a person,” said Jerry Anderson, University alumnus and news anchor for WTOL 11. “Each person has people who love and miss them.”

When walkers returned, they were treated to music and a raffle. Prizes were donated by some of the community businesses.

The big prize from the drawing was a football autographed by Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy, as well as his book.

Dungy was personally touched by tragedy when his son committed suicide almost two years ago.

Butler said the purpose of the walk was to get suicide and mental illness out of the closet and into the sunshine.

“Ninety percent of suicides are the result of undiagnosed or untreated mental issues,” said Paul Granello, an associate professor at Ohio State University.

Suicide is the eighth-leading cause of death in all age groups and is the third-leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds.

“We hope that this would be a yearly event. We don’t want people to forget these could happen, and we need to keep this in the public eye,” said Alice Davis, a Wood County Board of Health member.

WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE

There are several indicators of suicide, including:

Feelings of helplessness Talking about wanting to “end it all” Giving away important possessions Dropping grades Losing interest in things the person used to enjoy Suffering a significant loss through death, divorce or the end of a relationship Feelings of low self-esteem Restlessness or sleeplessness Unexplainable peaceful calm after a severe depression Threatening suicide Overwhelming legal or financial problems

MYTHS AND FACTS OF SUICIDE

MYTHS: Suicide is rare, especially among young people People talking about suicide won’t really do it People who attempt suicide absolutely want to die Talking about suicide with a depressed person might push them toward it.

FACTS: More than 30,000 people commit suicide each year, and it is the eighth-leading cause of death for all age groups. It is the third-leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24 Most people who commit suicide talk about it before actually doing it Part of the person might want to die, but there is usually a part that wants to live, too, if things got better Avoiding the subject of suicide may make things worse. Talking about negative feelings might make the person feel well enough to get the help he or she needs.

Facts are from the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services of Troy, Ohio.

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