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September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness month. For me it is every month, every day. The stigma associated with mental illness and suicide works against the individual trying to seek help for life-saving preventions.

Nevada is fifth in the nation tied with Colorado for suicide deaths. Nevada has the highest rate in the country for those 65 years or older, second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15-24, sixth leading cause of death for Native American males, and for every teen that dies by suicide, it is estimated that 100-200 teens have attempted.

One of the biggest risk factors for completed suicide is a previous attempt. We need to embrace those who have attempted and get them the help they need. The statistics are from Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention. Suicide is a health concern that needs to be addressed.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, please join us on September 15th for our 13th annual 5K “Walk in Memory, Walk for Hope” at the Elko City Park by the Hospice Rose Garden. Registration ($20, per person) starts at 8 a.m., ceremony at 8:30 a.m., 5K starting at 8:45 a.m. with runners, walkers, doggie walkers, and stroller walkers. You will receive a t-shirt and beads to wear. Bring a picture of your loved one you can cut, to make a button. Hear music by The Moonshine Outlaws.

The walk is in memory of those who have died by suicide, and for the hope of preventing more deaths. Everyone is welcome to join in this walk, sponsored by the Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention, to raise awareness about suicide prevention, and to support those who have lost a loved one. On the same day, there will be nine other communities in Nevada walking to remember those lost to suicide and to call attention to the state’s suicide prevention effort.

September 18th, Restricting Access to Lethal Means will be presented in the Greenhaw Technical Arts Building at Great Basin College, room 130, from 6-7 pm. Lethal Means is firearms, medication and alcohol. Elko Police Department will lead a discussion about keeping your loved one safe and you safe. It will not be a discussion about the 2nd Amendment, instead it is about safety. Taylor Heinz, a suicide attempt survivor, will share her story and there will be survivors of suicide loss sharing their story. This is a free event.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training focuses on training adults to respond to and assist youth who may have a mental health illness or experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis. It is Thursday, September 27th, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Elko Area Chamber of Commerce. The cost is $15. CEU credits are available. Contact Mary Ann for registration at 775-777-3451.

One suicide affects 115 people. Have you been affected by a suicide? For every suicide, there are 25 attempts. Many suicides are preventable through conversations and education. Our goal is for you to walk away with information on how to prevent suicides, get help for yourself, and embrace those who have attempted.

September is a dedicated month to help bring awareness for suicide prevention. As a community let’s keep the conversation going throughout the year to stop suicides. It will take all of us to become a healthy community.

Please join us at one of the events or all the events to have a conversation about preventing suicides.

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Lynette Vega and Stormy Remington are Survivor of Suicide Loss facilitators.

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