Thursday, September 3, 2009

Walk Out of the Darkness to Help Others Walk into the Light of Life

No one likes to talk about this: Suicide.
Why? There's a stigma because it's dark and mysterious and scary and is a painfully excruciating subject to talk about -- ESPECIALLY for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. For the surviving family members there is always the question of "WHY?" And what follows is usually something like: "What could I have done to stop it?" And then something like: "How am I going to go on without ____?"

Depression is the cause of suicide. It's giving up on living. It's existing with on-going thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness. It's like living in a dark room and you can't find the key to open the locked door. There are windows in the dark room but the depressed person can only peer out from the personal tormenting darkness into the outside world where there is light, but cannot get out of their own personal prison. Many times they don't know why they feel the way they do and many times depressed people believe the lie that no one else feels the helplessness and hopelessness they do. So they keep their depression a secret and live in sadness and darkness on the "inside" while on the "outside" they sometimes even portray a happy-go-lucky personality...and they become very good at masking their depression from everyone who loves them. This is what is so dangerous and life-threatening about undiagnosed depression.
But there is hope and there is help. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is not afraid to talk about depression and suicide. Their goal is to study and research these issues and then educate the public of the warning signs and reveal the latest study findings -- to save lives and prevent these tragedies.

AFSP is a national organization headquartered in New York City and has established Out of the Darkness Community Walks all over the U.S. to raise awareness and remove the stigma.
Metro Atlanta has its own AFSP Chapter and is hosting
The Atlanta Out of the Darkness Community Walk
Sunday, October 4th
2:00 p.m.
at Chastain Park
in Atlanta
Registration and check-in will take place from 1-2 pm.
This 3-mile walk is along a path around Chastain Park.

The AFSP Metro Atlanta Chapter is headed up by Area Director Chris Owens. She's a woman of action and she's amazing. It was a delight to work with her on the AFSP Metro Atlanta Chapter's Board of Directors and to help with marketing and publications, too. It's obvious Chris has a call on her life to help raise awareness in metro Atlanta through her focused and endearing, yes, endearing leadership of the Chapter. Chris has worked at Duke University Medical Center for five years as a staff nurse specializing in Psychiatry and also as a Research Nurse for an Alzheimer's in Twins Study. After moving to Metro Atlanta in 1991, she stayed home to raise her two children. In 2004, she took the job as walk coordinator for the Atlanta Out of the Darkness Community Walk. She was promoted to Metro Atlanta Area Director in May, 2006 and helped start the chapter here. And she is always in need of volunteers! (By the way, this is one of my favorite pictures of Chris....please note her enthusiasm and energy!!!!) :)

I invite you to contact Chris to get more information about the Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walk on Sunday, October 4, 2009; and WALK TO SAVE LIVES... In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 16 minutes, claiming more than 32,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute; with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. It's easy to sign up for the Walk:

Please consider giving Chris a call or e-mail her to volunteer to help and/or learn more about the vision she has to bring those in darkness into the light of life in the metro Atlanta area through the AFSP-Metro Atlanta Chapter. You'll be glad you did. I sure was and as you can see, I am obviously still very supportive of this major effort!
Contact Information:
Chris Owens, RN, BSN
Metro Atlanta Area Director
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Love & blessings,

Warning Signs of Suicide
Suicide can be prevented. While some suicides occur without any outward warning, most people who are suicidal do give warnings. Prevent the suicide of loved ones by learning to recognize the signs of someone at risk, taking those signs seriously and
knowing how to respond to them.
Warning signs of suicide include:
Observable signs of serious depression:Unrelenting low moods

Pessimism Hopelessness Desperation Anxiety, psychic pain and inner tension


Sleep problems

Increased alcohol and/or other drug use

Recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks

Threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die

Making a plan: Giving away prized possessions

Sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearms

Obtaining other means of killing oneself such as poisons or medications

Unexpected rage or anger

The emotional crises that usually precede suicide are often recognizable and treatable. Although most depressed people are not suicidal, most suicidal people are depressed. Serious depression can be manifested in obvious sadness, but often it is rather expressed as a loss of pleasure or withdrawal from activities that had been enjoyable. One can help prevent suicide through early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses. ---Source: AFSP