I’m getting ready for a big long walk

 

I’ve started training in earnest for the May 21 American Foundation of Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness overnight walk in San Francisco for suicide awareness and prevention.

I walk in memory of my son Paul who took his life in 1999 at age 27. He was bipolar and severely depressed at the time of his death.

Our son Paul who died in 1999

Our son Paul who died in 1999

The recent data, according to AFSP, about suicide is astounding:

Suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined.

General

  • In 2014 (latest available data), there were 42,773 reported suicide deaths.
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 15 and 64 years in the United States.
  • Currently, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • A person dies by suicide about every 12.3 minutes in the United States.
  • Every day, approximately 117 Americans take their own life.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • There are 3.5 male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • 494,169 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm behavior, suggesting that approximately 12 people harm themselves (not necessarily intending to take their lives) for every reported death by suicide.

Depression

25 million Americans suffer from depression each year.

  • Over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.
  • Depression affects nearly 5-8 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year.
  • More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. But first, depression has to be recognized.

Last Sunday morning I walked just short of eleven miles, and I plan to do the same once a week until the night of the walk. With that and my gym and tennis workouts I think I’ll be ready for the big night. Last week alone I covered sixty-one miles with all those activities. That was my personal best.

The goal is to be able to walk sixteen to eighteen miles the night of the event. I did it last year in Boston, so there’s no reason I can’t do it again. Especially since last year’s walk was mostly in the cold and heavy rain. I hope it will be clear this year and the route doesn’t take us through too my hilly streets.

AFSP

So if you think this little description is a precursor to an “ask” for monetary support, you’re absolutely right.

AFSP says the proceeds from the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk will go to:

  • Fund Research for Suicide Prevention
  • Create and Distribute Education Programs
  • Advocate for Public Policy
  • Support Survivors of Suicide Loss

Please consider supporting me or anyone on my Team S.O.L.E.S.

***

Do you wonder why we walk at night and call the walk Out of the Darkness? It’s to bring the suicide word out of the darkness. The more people talk about it and say the word, the more we’ll be able to combat it. Please join me in this fight!

A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL!

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