The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

OUT OF THE DARKNESS - Suicide Prevention Walk

 

October 18, 2017

Courtesy Photo

Nearly 25 people gathered on a brisk, foggy morning at Legion Park for Sidney's Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk. The event is meant to create a sense of community among those who have survived suicidal thoughts and attempts and those who may be considering it, according to event co-organizer Andy Flander. Participants wore red or purple Out of the Darkness t-shirts to show solidarity and create awareness of suicide prevention resources in the area.

Sidney's third annual Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk in Legion Park Saturday attracted nearly 25 participants.

"We're here again to raise awareness and provide those peer supports, let people out there know they're not alone, whatever way suicide has affected them," Kaitlin Wilson, co-organizer, said.

The event was one of thousands held nationally, Andy Flander, co-organizer said.

"There's probably over 3,000 sites nationwide," he said. "Here, in Sidney, is the last walk in the state of Nebraska."

Key to the event is creating a sense of community, Flander said.

"There's the peer connection," he said. "People who have had that same experience with suicide, whether they've attempted it themselves or may be what we call survivors, maybe a friend or relative has completed suicide."

He added, "We'll let those relationships go from there."

It is important for people considering suicide to know they are not alone, Wilson said.

"A lot of times people feel their struggles are their own," she said. "They don't realize how many people have been affected by suicide in different ways, and it can be a good thing for them to have that connection."

It is okay to speak about suicide, as well. Wilson encourages to talk about their experiences and their feelings.

"It doesn't have to be secret. It doesn't have to be shameful," she said. "Talk about it with people and bring light on what's going on."

As a Sidney native, Flander enjoys seeing a community grow from these experiences and talk more about mental health issues.

"Especially suicide," he said. "It really doesn't get brought up so it stays in the dark, so to speak, and just having these informal times, saying let's get together and share this experience and telling the community you're not alone. It's a community effort."

The need is great in Sidney, Flander said, for both mental health and suicide prevention outreach and resources.

"Suicide is very prevalent in rural areas. It's growing," he said. "If you look at the CDC numbers, the trend in Nebraska, suicide is coming down, but that's contrary to what's going on in the country. It's going up. This is definitely a need area for this type of program."

Suicide can affect anyone, Wilson emphasized.

"There's no set characteristic of somebody who's thinking about suicide," she said. "We want to be able to look at someone and know what they're going through and you just can't do that, and especially when we don't talk about it, we don't know what people are thinking and how they're feeling."

 

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