Out from the shadows

M ost of us get down sometimes, or become frustrated with the paths our lives have taken. Still, it’s hard to imagine the depression and sense of hopelessness that cause some people to take their own lives. But it’s occurring with disturbing frequency in Mesa County, as the four-day series by The Daily Sentinel’s Amy Hamilton and Emily Shockley has clearly reported.

Mesa County has one of the highest suicide rates in the state, and it has continued to rise the past few years.

That is the disturbing news about this problem in our community. The good news, which brings hope that we may be able to reverse this trend, is the fact that more and more people are willing to speak out about suicide.

And it’s not just community leaders, mental-health professionals and suicide-prevention experts. It’s the families and friends of people who committed suicide, or came close to doing so. It’s mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and children. In a few cases, it’s even people who were on the brink of suicide themselves, people who were pulled back from the abyss by friends, family or professionals.

We thank all of those who have chosen to speak out, especially those who agreed to discuss their painful stories with this newspaper. They are speaking out in hopes they can prevent others from committing suicide and thereby keep other families and friends from experiencing the awful tragedy of having loved ones kill themselves.

This sort of public discussion is critical so that people who believe their lives are so desperate, their situations so unique that death is their only option will realize that others have experienced similar feelings, and most have found a way out.

Depression is a disease, but it is a treatable one. It is not a permanent, irreversible life sentence of sadness and despair. Treating it requires medical help, counseling and support from friends and family.

But people contemplating suicide need to know that assistance and support is there for them. They must be made aware that they won’t lose their families, friends or careers if they seek assistance. To make this known to people suffering, others must be willing to talk about suicide openly. We need to drag suicide out from the shadows and shine a bright light on it.

To that end, The Daily Sentinel is sponsoring a free public forum, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight at the Whitman Educational Center on 248 S. Fourth Street. Mental health providers and suicide prevention advocates, as well Hamilton and Shockley will be there to discuss suicide trends, prevention and resources available. We invite everyone concerned to attend.


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