Powell, WY

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Tom Lawrence

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.

Health care provider booths at the park focused on physical or mental health-related will be on hand, and musicians are also welcome. Call Rachel Williams with the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming at 307-250-5008 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to join in the effort.

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.

PHS Boys team young but aims to improve all year, says coach  

Seven might be a very lucky number for the Powell High School girls cross country team.

That’s the number of girls who came out for the team this summer. Heading into the season’s first meet Friday afternoon in Cody, coach Cliff Boos is feeling fairly optimistic.

Raymond Uno returned to Heart Mountain last week.

Uno, 83, first arrived in the windswept high plains of northwest Wyoming in 1942 as a prisoner, held in an armed camp because he was of Japanese ancestry.

Thumbs down to the absurd schedule Congress has set for itself.

Plan to enjoy this holiday weekend? Expect to take a trip, or relax at home on the couch, enjoying time away from the workplace? Sorry, but you’re a piker when it comes to time off.

Congress was not in session for a single day in August. Not one.

It’s a simple theory that has been proven time and time again: People working together can get more done.

The problem is how to get them to pull on the same end of the rope. Powell Economic Partnership, Inc. (PEP) has brought in some experts to help accomplish that goal and assist local businesses, nonprofit agencies and government entities.

Election night wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger for those following the Republican contest for governor.

Gov. Matt Mead rolled to an easy win, garnering 53,673 votes compared to 31,534 for Dr. Taylor Haynes and 12,463 for Cindy Hill, the state superintendent of public instruction. The results were widely anticipated and at the moment the first returns were in, it was obvious Mead would claim a comfortable victory in his bid for a second term.

Thumbs down to the mayhem and hatred so visible on the streets of Ferguson, Mo.

Racial tensions in the small town have been apparent for years, and the match that touched off that powder keg was the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, on Aug. 9.

This has been my first election cycle in Wyoming and it has been a rather eventful one to observe.

The campaign started with a jolt last summer when Liz Cheney jumped into the Senate race, announcing she intended to defeat Sen. Mike Enzi for the Republican nomination.

Too busy to vote today? Don’t like stopping by the polling place? Think your vote doesn’t matter?

Think again.

Hitting 4 Hometown Heros set for Sept. 13-14 at Homesteader Park

Jim Stringer coached football and wrestling, but a group of softball players plan to honor him this fall.

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