Put suicide front and center of the conversation

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In Indiana, someone dies from suicide every eight hours.

It’s a startling statistic but even more grim when you talk to survivors and to families who endure an unimaginable toll. Putting a name, and a face to a statistic has a way of awakening you to reality.

United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties is helping raise awareness about the growing urgency behind suicides across the state by sponsoring “You Are Not Alone,” an afternoon event at Morrow’s Meadows in Yorktown, Indiana in September, which is suicide prevention month.

Pam Taylor, whose 35-year-old son died by suicide in 2015, is lead organizer of the event, which goes 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29 in the park. Todd Taylor was a licensed mental health counselor.

The words of a mother hang with me, a mother of three myself.

“He helped so many people but couldn’t help himself,” said Taylor, who is a teacher in Grant County. She and her husband, Rick Taylor, have two other adult children and six grandchildren. For years, I have worked with Rick, an employee of Muncie Power Products, on the United Way Campaign. It’s hard to imagine the heartache of these parents…but I can.

According to National Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate has increased by 25.4 percent from 1999 to 2016, with nearly every state in the U.S. experiencing increases during this time period. There were more than 44,965 deaths by suicide in 2016, making it the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States. In 2016, there were more than twice as many deaths by suicide than by homicide and 1.3 million adults had attempted suicide.

The suicide rate in the United States is the highest it’s been since World War II. The rate in 2017 that was 33% higher than in 1999. The research included data on deaths in the United States from the National Vital Statistics System's multiple cause of death files for 1999 and 2017.

Suicide remains a topic that is discussed only in hushed tones, as though talking about it will cause it to happen. The truth is, we must talk about this in order to make a lasting difference in the statistics. A life depends upon it.

If you need help or want to talk, call the national hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).