Suicide prevention group to host local walk
SALISBURY — Every six hours, someone in North Carolina dies from a suicide; every nine minutes, one person in the U.S. dies at their own hand.
Those statistics are from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a voluntary health organization that has chapters in all 50 states.
The Central Piedmont chapter is hosting a fall community walk in Statesville. Organizers Susan Tolle and Debbie Howell say the chapter reaches Iredell, Catawba, Alexander and Rowan counties.
The group is working to establish a bigger presence in Rowan County and hopes area residents will support the organization’s work to educate, help fund research, and provide support and advocacy for people affected by suicide.
The Out of Darkness Community Walk will be held Oct. 5 at Statesville High School, 474 N. Center St. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m.
This year marks the second walk. Last year, the group raised $32,000 of a $50,000 goal and had 200 walkers. This year the goal is to raise $30,000.
Mental health organizations and other providers will be available with information about suicide, risk factors and support.
During the opening ceremonies, participants will hear from people affected by suicide.
“This walk raises the awareness and reduces the stigma of suicide,” Tolle said.
One of the things the organization is working to change the phrase “committing suicide.”
“Suicide is a health care crisis. It’s an illness,” Tolle said.
The idea is to get people talking about suicide because if they do, it can save lives, Tolle said.
During a bead ceremony at the walk where, people who have lost someone to suicide or survivors of suicide will receive a colored bead based on their standing — survivor, spouse, friend, child or parent.
“It touches all of us,” Tolle said.
Howell said six children in Statesville have died as a result of suicide.
Tolle’s daughter attempted suicide multiple times. She’s now in a healthier place in life and is a nurse, and she will take part in the walk.
Tolle and Howell say they hope to make the greatest difference in schools and corporations. The women speak before civic organizations and corporate groups.
For more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, visit www.afsp.org/CentralPiedmont or call the suicide hotline via 800-273-TALK.
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