Reducing the Suicide Rate 20% by 2025

AFSP's Out of the Darkness Milwaukee Walk

October 16, 2018
Team Donalds Ducks at the AFSPs Out of the Darkness Milwaukee Walk
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This past Sunday (October 14, 2018), I participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Milwaukee Walk at Humboldt Park. I have been a mental health advocate for nearly two years now and though I knew of the walk last year, I was uncomfortable about registering and attending. I wasn’t ‘ready’ to just show up yet.

While ‘talking about suicide’ and depression isn’t ‘easy’ – my comfort level around the topic has grown a lot over the last year. This year my friend and recent full-time co-worker, Riggs, invited me to join his team, Donald’s Ducks, to help him raise money and awareness for suicide.

When I showed up on Sunday, I was overwhelmed by the turnout – so many people in Milwaukee (and really, worldwide) are affected by suicide either personally or through a friend or family member. They also gave out different colored beads to allow yourself to identify with how you’re impacted; for me, I wore blue (support the cause), purple (lost a relative or friend – I lost my younger cousin), and green (struggle personally). There are many more colors than the three I wore and to see so many other people wearing the color green really put into perspective how real this mental illness is.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2016, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide (which averages to 123 per day).

There are many risk factors and warning signs that you can watch for in your friends and loved ones. I think it is also important to mention that we need to be checking in on our ‘strong friends’ too – I think of my friends who are considered the ‘life of the party’ and would otherwise have no idea they are struggling, if you know they have a history with mental illness, don’t forget to check on them too.

The AFSP’s goal is to reduce the annual suicide rate by 20% by 2025 and walks like this get the conversation started while showing the community that support exists around this topic. This specific walk in Milwaukee raised $141,953 through the efforts of 2,461 people – I can’t wait to see the impact this walk has next year!

All Radio.com stations are committed to ending the stigma of talking about mental health. For more information and resources, visit ImListening.org.