Clevelanders will gather at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (http://www.clemetzoo.com) at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6 to participate in the "Into the Light" walk. This event is held to "shine the light" on depression and suicide prevention, particularly among teenagers.
The walk is held by SPEA, the Suicide Prevention Education Alliance (http://www.speaneohio.org), whose "goal is to cause at-risk students to seek and receive treatment from a mental health professional."
For many Northeast Ohioans, this walk is addressing a very timely issue. This August, an incoming 11th-grade student from a local community, committed suicide during a party being held at her own home. The first day of school was sparsely attended, as hundreds of people attended her funeral.
Less than a week after classes began at a large Ohio university, a freshman hung himself in his dorm.
According to SPEA, suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24. SPEA also points out the link between suicide attempts and major depressive disorder. Quoting a 2004 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SPEA cites that 14% of American youth between the ages of 12-17 “have experienced at least one episode of depressive disorder in the last year.” Of those, 7% had thought about committing suicide during an episode of major depressive disorder.
“Ninety percent of people who die by suicide suffered from treatable mental disorder at the time of their death,” SPEA states on its website.
The Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/) states that in a 2011 sample of youth in grades nine through 12, 15.8% of students said they had given serious consideration to committing suicide during the previous 12 months. Of the group surveyed, 12.8% said that in the prior 12 months, they had actually made a plan about how they would carry out their suicide.
There are suicide warning signs, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. These include, among others, talking about feeling hopeless or wanting to die, talking about being a burden to others, increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, becoming withdrawn, and exhibiting extreme mood swings.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org) provides “free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” The phone number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
The “Into the Light” walk is one effort to raise local awareness of this proliferative problem. For the young lady who would have been in 11th grade now, a team is forming in her honor to help raise awareness of this tragic problem.
For more information on the walk and how to participate, go to the SPEA website.