At certain times, life can be very confusing and troublesome, especially if you are a young adult. Most school-age kids thrive on wanting to fit in, but lack of confidence can keep them from speaking up to share their feelings or seek our help. If they are being bullied or feeling depressed, thinking they have no one to talk to, it can lead to dangerous behavior and even cause death by suicide.
Last week's North Country Out of the Darkness Walk in Lake Placid not only raised a lot of money - $35,000 on the day of the walk - but it also raised a lot of awareness. In its fifth year, the organization gives hope that there is light, despite all of the darkness - that things will get better if you just hold on.
There were 38,364 suicides reported in 2010, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans and one of the top leading causes of death for young adults 15-24, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We wonder if more recent data would show it becoming more common with the popularity of social networks and digital technology, through which people can spread some pretty hurtful stuff about other people. This has been a growing problem in our nation's schools. Surveys have reported that approximately 33 percent of all teenagers have been cyber-bullied.
The good news is that many suicides are preventable if those considering it have someone they can talk to and trust, who can listen and give them good advice. Sometimes parents, siblings, friends, educators, school counselors and clergy fill this need, but sometimes they don't. Schools desperately need more counselors, yet with tight budgets this is one area in which they cut back. With such a growing and eminent need, we are denying our at-risk children the help they need.
That is where the Out of Darkness Walk's success can help. It will use the money to help develop resources and programs to help troubled youth.
There are some good community awareness programs that you may want to know about:
-"School-Based Response to Suicide and Traumatic Death" is happening from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 at the Adirondack Educational Center (BOCES) on state Route 3, Saranac Lake. To register for this, contact Kelly Busch at email@example.com
-"Living Works Safe Talk Program" is scheduled for 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19 at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid with presenter Laura Marx, AFSP. To register, contact Doug Terbeek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can check out other community awareness programs by calling the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition at 518-891-2280. There is also a new regional hotline that is in the works.
These are resources to help train more people to watch for and comfort potentially suicidal people. The more people out there doing this, the fewer young people will kill themselves. Therefore, we hope a good number of parents, educators, police, clergy, emergency room staff and those involved in the mental health profession attend these sessions.