Once a month, on average, someone in Park County commits suicide.
Does that number surprise you? It did us when we read it in a story reporter Gib Mathers wrote for last Thursday’s paper.
Maybe it’s because suicides are usually kept quiet, with the survivors not sharing the cause of death with many people, and those who hear whispers about it choosing to keep it to themselves. We appreciate such signs of respect, but it seems to be time to bring suicide and its causes out in the open.
Far too many people are killing themselves in this city, county, state and region — Wyoming and Montana have the highest per capita suicide rates in the nation. In 2012, 163 people reportedly took their own lives in Wyoming, including 12 in Park County. It appears the county had the same number of self-inflicted deaths in 2013.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 39,518 people ended their own lives in this country in 2011, the most recent year such statistics are available. That makes it the 10th most common form of death.
Suicide has been in the news recently because of the Aug. 11 death of Robin Williams. The stand-up comic, TV and movie star was just 63 years old, beloved by millions, wealthy and acclaimed in his field.
Yet he chose to end his private torture by hanging himself in his home. While that may seem like a puzzling end, suicide prevention experts tell us anyone can decide to end their life. Men in his age group are especially vulnerable.
We need to understand why. We need to offer a helping hand to those slipping into darkness and deadly depression. We must make private pain a worthy topic for public discussion.
There is no shame in breaking your leg, or being hurt in an accident, to being stricken with cancer. There may have been such scorn decades or centuries ago, but we understand the cause of illness and accidents now.
It’s time — well past time — to treat mental maladies, including depression, the same way. We call for shedding light on this topic, not hiding it in the corner of a clouded, stricken mind.
One way to battle the blues, we have been told, is to take a walk. Several dozen local residents will do just that this weekend in an effort to strike back against depression and suicide
The second annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Awareness Walk will be held in Cody Saturday. It will start at 11 a.m. at City Park.
Walkers must be registered by 2 p.m. Friday; it’s free. Go to afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2963 or call 307-578-7029 to sign up.
The walk planning committee is meeting at noon today (Tuesday) at 2206 Sheridan Ave., Suite A in Cody. Stop in to offer help; lunch will be served.
People are being asked to donate money; 182 people walked last year and $10,000 was collected, with the money going to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Williams teaches suicide prevention classes. She is available to speak to your organization, at your school or to employees at your business. Call her at 307-578-7029 to learn more.
If you are having suicidal thoughts or have made efforts to harm yourself, help is available. Call the Yellowstone Behavioral Health Center at 754-5687 or 307-587-2197. Someone is there right now who will offer assistance.
You also can call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
People are there and they care. Suicide is a very real part of our world; let’s face it and work to reduce the number of victims.