I attended the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness walk in Omaha on September 9th to kick off National Suicide Prevention Week. This was the first walk I’ve attended and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was blown away by the 3,500 people that crowded around the Lewis and Clark Landing wearing beads of all different colors, getting temporary tattoos with suicide prevention symbols, and walking through the resource booth to see what organizations are there to help them.
Leaving that day, it became more clear to me that we cannot just sweep suicide under the rug and pretend it isn’t there. It is a public health crisis that needs to be addressed because too many lives are lost this way. Mental health and suicide prevention can be uncomfortable topics to talk about but they are just as important as physical health. We need to start the conversation so it can be as common to talk about as strep throat or a broken arm.
AFSP offers a list of ideas for you to take action and participate in suicide prevention.
- Participate in a walk to fight suicide. Save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide by participating in a walk in your area. The more people we spread the word to, the more normal the conversation about suicide will become.
- Volunteer. AFSP has chapters in all 50 states so reach out to one closest to you and see how you can help create a culture that is smart about mental health through education and community programs, research and advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide.
- Bring prevention to your school or work. The Kim Foundation offers free presentation and materials about mental health and suicide prevention. Bringing the presentation or posting materials will let those who see it know you have mental health and suicide prevention as a priority.
- Create a memory quilt square. AFSP’s Digital Memory Quilt is an online space where suicide loss survivors everywhere can honor and share stories about their loved ones using video, audio, photos, and words — stories that serve as squares in our virtual quilt.
- Be active in spreading mental health awareness. Society’s view of mental illness won’t change if we don’t act to change it. The more people who see you are an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention, the more they will be willing to talk about it too. Mental illness is real and it isn’t always in a person’s control. Let’s let the people who are struggling know that they are not alone.
Kailey Kocourek, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Kailey Kocourek joined The Kim Foundation in July 2018 as the Project Coordinator. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UNO in Public Health and is currently working towards her Master’s in Public Health from UNMC, expecting to graduate in May 2019. She was drawn to the non-profit world because of her passion for helping and educating others. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and spending time with her husband, Ethan, and two children, Kaiden and Emry.