I gathered photos for the memory wall at the event. And it always hits me hard when I think about all that I have missed out on not having a father during my parenting years, and all that my boys have missed out on, not having a grandfather. So many missed memories, so many missed connections, and just a life that my boys will never know.
He was an awesome grandfather. Unfortunately my oldest doesn't remember him at all, and I was pregnant with my youngest when we lost my father to suicide. So much missed.
For those of you that don't know our story, I lost my father to suicide on Halloween, 1996. So it will be 20 years ago this coming Halloween, October 31, 1996. We were living in Germany at the time and we were handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters. My older brother was the one to call and tell me the news. Not a memory I like to think about.
As we approach Halloween, I think of him often, more often than usual. And I think about all we can do to prevent suicide. So as you look at my photos let me give you some facts to think about. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. The annual suicide rate per 100,000 individuals is 12.93. The North Carolina rate is 13.04, we rank above the national average with Burke County falling in at 16.99, ranking us 13th out of all 100 counties in North Carolina. It is the second leading cause of death for 15-34 year olds and the third leading cause of death for 10-14 year olds. These are OUR CHILDREN! This is preventable.
We need trained nurses in the schools, we need teachers, parents and peers trained in signs of suicidal thoughts, and what to do if someone is thinking/talking about suicide or struggling with depression. This is a HUGE deal folks. You can learn more about what you can do here at the AFSP site.
Also read about your state statistics here at the AFSP statistics page. And ask questions when talking to your candidates for city and county commissioner. Find out what they plan to do to reduce suicide in your county, let them know that this is a priority and you are watching/listening to what they have to say and will vote accordingly. This is a national epidemic that is swept under the rug, ignored, shamed. Mental health is important to us all, living in a healthy society benefits everyone.