Suicide accounts for more than 33,000 deaths per year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That equates to 91 deaths per day, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24.
Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that children from 10 to 14 years old are the fastest growing age group completing the suicide act, up 99 percent since 1997.
Armed with this knowledge and a desire to raise awareness, Olive Peirce Middle School’s WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) leaders are organizing a walk to draw attention to this growing issue among their peers.
Parent volunteer Kristina Krohne is one of the people spearheading the walk. Krohne currently has two children in Ramona schools and has a personal connection to suicide awareness and prevention. Her nephew, who also attended Ramona schools, took his life five years ago.
“It’s more common than people realize,” she said. “Kids need to know they are not alone and that it’s normal to feel depressed or pressured sometimes, but taking their life is not the answer. There are people they can talk to.”
Krohne points out the prevalence of suicide attempts, according to the CDC: 14.5 percent of high school students seriously consider suicide. That’s 1.5 out of every 10 students.
November is suicide awareness month and there are several organized walks throughout the county, but, since it’s sometimes difficult to organize transportation to get middle school aged children to these walks, WEB decided to bring the walk to them. So, together with the Yellow Ribbon organization, parent volunteers and WEB staff Michele Mauney and Joe Krainock, they launched the first walk to be held in Ramona. After Yellow Ribbon helped train the WEB team, the students went into planning mode and are furiously getting ready for the event.
The walk will be held on Friday, Nov. 13, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Ramona High School track. They are looking for as much community help as possible.
“Anything will help,” said Krohne. “We are looking for people to help the day of with organization, we are looking for community businesses to make donations for a drawing and prizes to students who participate, or if someone wants to donate water or host a barbecue, even if people want to just make a donation. Really, anything would be great.”
She hopes that the walk will remind people of the seriousness of suicide and help erase the stigma of suicide.
“People think it only happens to kids with mental illness or drug problems or it’s just something they see on the news, but it isn’t. It can happen to anyone. We want kids to know it’s not a solution to your problems and that they can always get help and if this walk will show them that then our mission will be accomplished,” she said.
If you would like to help or would like more information, contact Mauney via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Olive Peirce Middle School at 760-787-2400.