Suicide Awareness Hike much needed

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With the stigma surrounding mental health issues and suicide, we are so glad that two Moses Lake residents, Aaron Molina and Carlos Avila, are raising awareness about suicide awareness and prevention with a 22-kilometer (13.6-mile) suicide hike.

Why 22 kilometers, you may ask? Twenty-two signifies the average number of veterans who die by suicide in America daily. Molina and Avila are Marine Corps veterans who want to help veterans and civilians. Information about Big Bend Community College’s Veterans Resource Office will be provided at the hike.

The hike starts at 8 a.m., Saturday, May 12 at Blue Heron Park. People who want a shorter hike can stop at Cascade Park. Hydration stations will be available. All are welcome. Non-hikers who want to learn more can connect with others before or after the event. Proceeds from T-shirt purchases will go to the American Legion and Moses Lake High School’s Suicide Awareness Program.

The issues is an important one to our area. In rural areas like Grant and Adams counties, drives to metro areas are long and access to medical specialists is made more difficult by the area’s remoteness.

The recent death of a Royal City teen by suicide leaves a community and family mourning his loss.

Teens and young adults are at a high risk for suicide. For people ages 15-34, suicide is the leading cause of death. According to information provided by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide among teens and young adults has nearly tripled since the 1940s. The reasons vary, but two surveys have suggested a link between more smartphone use and suicide, according to a report in Clinical Psychological Science released in 2017.

“Adolescents who spent more time on new media (including social media and electronic devices such as smartphones) were more likely to report mental health issues, and adolescents who spent more time on non-screen activities (in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, print media, and attending religious services) were less likely,” the report’s abstract states.

Seven people committed suicide in Grant County in 2015, according to the latest statistics from the state Department of Health. Nine people died by suicide the previous year for a rate of about 8 percent. The state’s average is about 16 percent.

We encourage you to attend and help spread the word about the event. There are no easy answers to suicide. We can only hope that getting people talking is a good first step in raising awareness and saving lives.

For more information, please visit the walk’s Facebook page titled “Suicide Awareness Hike.”

— Editorial Board

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