This fall marks the start of another campaign season for The Out of the Darkness Community Walks across the country. The campaign raises funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the leading non-for-profit association dedicated solely to understanding and preventing suicide.
Every year, an estimated one million people commit fatal suicide out of some 15 million suicide attempts worldwide. In the United States, it is estimated that someone will attempt to commit suicide every minute resulting in over 36,000 suicide deaths every year.
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The effects of suicide are devastating. Suicide survivors, those who have lost someone to suicide, usually experience a long and intensive grieving period characterized by feelings of shock, rejection, longing, anger, and guilt. The pain resulting from the loss of a loved one to suicide is not easily, if ever, remedied.
Suicide is a preventable public health concern. The causes of suicidal behavior are complex and stem from various individual, family, and societal risk factors. Efforts to prevent suicide focus on minimizing risk factors such as: depression, psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, family history of mental disorders or substance abuse, violence, sexual abuse, incarceration, easy-access to firearms, and exposure to suicidal behavior.
The risk factors vary by age, gender, race, making it difficult to implement a standardized prevention plan. For instance, men have a higher risk of suicide; almost four times as many males as females die by suicide. Historically, females attempt suicide more often than their male counterparts, but males succeed in suicide more often. Although older Caucasian males have the highest suicide incidence, youth suicide rates continue to increase every year. Gay and lesbian youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
The most common risk factor across all cultures is psychiatric illness. Approximately, 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from some type of mental or emotional disorder; 60% of fatal suicides occur in people diagnosed with clinical depression. Other psychiatric disorders associated with suicide include: bipolar disease, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorder, and personality disorder.
Local Out of the Darkness Community Walk
Independence Park, Libertyville
September 29, 8 am -- 12 pm