Bringing the topic of suicide into the light is the goal of the Out of the Darkness walk that took place Saturday in Alliance.
Health Educator Janelle Visser, with Panhandle Public Health District, explained this year is the tenth year the walk has taken place. She said there were about 75 participants in the walk this year.
“It was a beautiful morning for the walk,” said Visser. “This was our 10th annual walk. This year we also had walks in Scottsbluff and Sidney. The walk is to help people become more aware that there is help out there and that there are people who care. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the nation.”
Visser said the funds raised from the walk go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help with programs to raise awareness about the impact of suicide.
“The community Out of the Darkness walks help create a movement,” Visser said. “It gives people the courage to open up about their own struggles or loss, and that platform to change the approach to mental health.”
One of the biggest resources available for people in need of help, Visser explained, is the National Suicide Lifeline, which can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255. There is also a Crisis Text Line available by texting TALK to 741741.
“Most suicidal individuals do give warnings of these feelings,” said Visser. “The most effective way to prevent a friend, or a loved one from taking his or her life is to recognize the factors. You must take the warning signs seriously.
“The signs that most directly warn about suicide include people threatening to hurt themselves, looking for ways to kill oneself and talking or writing about death, dying or suicide. Fifty to 75% of all suicides do give warning of their intentions. You need to be willing to listen and tell them you are concerned about them,” Visser said.
It is important for people to seek professional help, Visser noted. She said there are many counselors throughout the Panhandle who would be able to help people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.