I began to research everything I could in regard to suicide and recovering from a death by suicide. I discovered many things in the following couple years; including the realization of how debilitating this grief can be without the proper support, along with how our moral and spiritual values are in question. I found that there needed to be more support for the survivors left behind, as they were also at high risk of suicide themselves. There was also a need to create awareness regarding suicide and the mental health conditions that can lead to suicide, and in so doing erase the stigmas that keep people from seeking the mental health treatment that can save lives.
Ninety percent of all deaths from suicide could be prevented with the proper mental health treatment. In West Virginia, suicide is the 2nd largest killer of our youth ages 15-24, and is ranked 17th for overall suicide deaths in the Unites States, per the American Association of Suicidology. In the U.S. suicide is the 3rd largest killer of our youth. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, rated the highest suicide rate (18.6) in the age group 45 to 64 years old. The second highest rate (17.6) is for the age group 85 years and older. In 2010 they reported suicide as the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. This rate expresses the number of suicide deaths that occur for every 100,000 people in the population for which the rate is reported. In the year 2010, they report that someone in our country dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes.
What can we do to help: Learn the risk factors, warning signs and remember the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Speak out about seeking the proper treatment for a mental health problem and help to erase the stigmas which have instilled the idea of treatment as being seen as a “weakness”.
My husband, Chuck, and I created a non profit 501c3 organization, Messages For Hope, in 2010 to aid the survivors of a suicide loss by creating peer support groups and are currently operating four groups throughout WV. Messages For Hope has had many successful awareness campaigns to erase the stigmas that surround suicide and will continue this year with four Walks for Suicide Prevention in WV along with various other awareness activities. We are looking for survivors of a loss in your area – if you are a survivor or you know someone who has survived a loss by suicide please contact Debbie@messagesforhope.com, or 304.389.1860 or for more resources please go to our website www.messagesforhope.org.
We are dedicated to helping those who have lost someone to suicide, to create awareness that can erase stigmas, to educate the public on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, to promote mental health wellness, and to keep any other families from suffering such a devastating loss.
Debbie Cardwell, President/Founder/CEO
Messages For Hope, Inc