Carrying the burden together

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-34 in Virginia. According to the American Suicide Prevention Foundation (ASPF), it’s the 11th leading cause overall in the state. ASPF cites that in Virginia, one person dies by suicide every eight hours.

“While this data is the most accurate we have, we estimate the numbers to be higher,” officials said on the ASPF website regarding their data. “Stigma surrounding suicide leads to underreporting, and data collection methods critical to suicide prevention need to be improved.”

This is something the organizers of the Warrior Walk — which included a 5K and candlelight vigil to remember those lost on Saturday — understand and have, for the second year, worked to raise awareness for the cause of suicide prevention in honor of suicide prevention month.

“I lost my mother, Judy Dixon, to suicide in January 1997,” said Anne Waters, one of the event’s organizers. “At that time, I knew no one else that had been touched by suicide. All I knew was she was going to miss every important day in my life.”

Event organizer Bridgette Malsbury was also affected by suicide in her family.

“Suicide is very prevalent,” she said. “It affects more and more people daily, and as a survivor living in the aftermath of my sister’s suicide, I felt that I was in a lonely club, that no one understood my pain or my questions or the grief after suicide other than my friend Anne Waters, whose mother … died by suicide many years before.”

The pain these women went through dealing with the aftermath of suicide, even though it isn’t singular, is individual. We stand by them and by all who are either dealing with the aftermath of suicide or dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.

No one may be able to completely understand the individual pain you are going through, but through love and prayer, we hope that you see that the burden you carry isn’t carried alone.

We commend the event organizers of the Warrior Walk of doing just that and working against the stigma.