HelpLine and the Delaware County Suicide Prevention Coalition will host the ninth annual Suicide Prevention Walk from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 7, at Ohio Wesleyan University’s (OWU) Hamilton Williams Campus Center (Benes Room), 40 W. Rowland Ave., in Delaware. This rain or shine event is free and open to the public.
This year’s event will feature a 1.5-mile walk through historic downtown Delaware. Local agencies and groups that support suicide prevention efforts throughout Delaware County will be on hand to share resources and services. Family-friendly activities that will be featured include seed planting, social media stations, and the Peyton Heart Project.
The walk accentuates a larger observance of National Suicide Awareness Month in September. Affirming the theme, Inspire Action and Change Lives, HelpLine will co-host a community-wide event and observe a national day of prevention to encourage awareness and action:
• The i’MPossible Project, Thursday, Sept. 5, 7 p.m., OWU Hamilton Williams Campus Center, Benes Room (sponsored by Delaware County Foundation, Women Giving Together in partnership with the OWU chapter of Active Minds)
• World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10
HelpLine Suicide Prevention Program Manager and walk event coordinator Sarah Lee Jefferson said that the goal of the walk is to offer a safe environment for people on any area of the spectrum of suicide and suicide prevention.
“We are here to support survivors of suicide, those who have attempted and survived, anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, those who care about someone who struggles with suicide,” said Jefferson. “We want to reduce the stigma around suicide, and this walk is one of many ways we’re bringing this public health crisis to the forefront.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of 129 Americans each day. In 2018, Delaware County lost 19 community members to suicide – a 32 percent decrease from the previous year. It’s estimated for each suicide there are 25 attempts. This means that nearly 475 Delaware County residents attempted suicide last year.
“There’s a prevalent myth that if you ask someone about being suicidal that you increase the risk, or make the situation worse by triggering the act,” Jefferson said. “Evidence suggests that this just isn’t the case, as offering support and listening is more likely to reduce distress as opposed to causing a tragedy.”
Jefferson said that people are often reluctant to intervene, for many reasons, including a fear of not knowing what to say. It’s important to remember there is no specific formula. Empathy, compassion, genuine concern, knowledge of resources and a desire to help are key to preventing a suicide. Some of the action steps a person can take to save a life include:
• Learn the warning signs: hopelessness, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, acting reckless, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from friends, family & society and dramatic mood changes.
• Take a HelpLine Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Training and learn QPR (Question.Persuade.Refer)
• Practice self-care
• Reach out and check on your friends, family
• Spread the word
“Suicide is preventable,” said Jefferson. “Prevention means educating yourself, asking questions, and getting someone the help and support they need – we can all save lives.”
To register for the walk, visit https://helplinedelmor.org/walk/.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation, contact HelpLine’s free, confidential 24-hour support information line at 1-800-684-2324 or text helpline to 898211.
As the community’s only 24/7 resource, HelpLine is the go-to for supporting and empowering change. HelpLine is a contract provider of the Delaware-Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and partially funded by SourcePoint. A United Way Partner, HelpLine is accredited by the American Association of Suicidology, National Alliance of Information & Referral Systems and certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
For more information, visit: www.HelpLinedelmor.org.