Five million living Americans have tried to kill themselves. More than a million attempt it each year. And every year, more than 38,000 succeed - if that's what one should call it.
This kind of talk is uncomfortable but necessary because we, as a society, can and should improve these grim statistics, which were provided by the people organizing Sunday's Out of the Darkness Community Walk for suicide awareness and prevention.
Consider some more difficult stats: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens, young adults and college students. It is the fifth leading cause of preventable death in Franklin County, 10th in the U.S. as a whole.
"Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death," said Deb Jerdo, co-chair of the North Country Out of the Darkness Walk, who lost a son to suicide in 2005. "In adolescents, this is most often depression."
The idea of the walk is to get people talking about suicide and the help that's available to help prevent it.
"Remember when cancer and alcoholism were hidden and not spoken about?" Mrs. Jerdo said. "Now people are no longer afraid to talk about these once-feared subjects and know where to find help. That is our hope with suicide."
The Out of the Darkness Walk will take place from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on the Olympic Speedskating Oval, Main Street, Lake Placid. There will be stuff for kids to do so parents can be freed up to walk. It would be great if you could go and participate, or donate through this event to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. But it would be even better if you could remember the following warning signs of suicide, and the places you can call if you or someone you know is considering it.
The following are signs that a person may be considering suicide:
Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary
Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities - seemingly without thinking
Withdrawing from friends, family and society
Feeling hopeless, trapped, anxious, agitated or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life
Having a co-morbid mental illness
Alcohol and other substance abuse
Personal and family turmoil
Work and/or school problems
Prior suicide attempts and/or a family history of suicide
Whom to call
If you or anyone you know is showing any of these signs, please call one of the following:
North Star Behavioral Health Services: 518-891-5535 in Saranac Lake
Adirondack Medical Center Emergency Room: 518-891-4141 in Saranac Lake, 518-523-1717 in Lake Placid
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK (8255); TTY Line, 800-799-4889