Unfortunately, many of us are witnessing the rise of the mental health crisis in our own homes and backyards. It’s sweeping across the globe at an alarming rate. On September 9th, 2023, we were honored to help sponsor the 7th annual Aberdeen Out of the Darkness Walk, and also host a water station for walkers. The event brings together survivors of suicide loss, those with personal struggles and community members supporting the cause. It was even more impactful to our small community this year, as Aberdeen lost 3 people to suicide in the weeks leading up to the walk. More than 700 people participated in the walk, including many of the family and friends that had just experienced the loss of their loved ones that week.
In South Dakota, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, and the suicide rate continues to rise. Among young South Dakotans the impact of suicide is more devastating as it’s the 2nd leading cause of death of 10–34-year-olds. Raising funds for more resources is crucial, as the national offices are able to split time in states according to dollars raised. By having more presence of the national office in the state means more FREE programming for parents, teachers, students and faith leaders in the area.
This year, we followed up the walk with inviting a few partners to join us on an internal Zoom call the Monday after the walk. They spoke to us about trends they are seeing, resources available, how to offer support to those suffering with mental illness and so much more. A powerful take a way that one of our partners shared… “if you see someone having a heart attack in front of you, we would call 911. Mental health is a health issue. We need to act in the same way. It is much better to have the person mad at you and be here the next day, then not say anything and they are not here anymore.”
To learn more about mental health resources in your area, please visit www.afsp.org.