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Be the one to help prevent suicide deaths

The numbers are sobering.

In 2022, 49,449 people died by suicide in the United States. This is up from an estimated 48,183 in 2021.

In Wisconsin, 921 people died by suicide in 2022, the equivalent of the entire population of the village of Rib Lake. This is up from 905 people dead by suicide in Wisconsin in 2021.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10-14 and among those ages 25-34, third among those ages 15-24, and the fourth for those ages 3544.

The leading cause of death for all those age groups is the broad category of “unintentional injury.” Given the stigma which is still associated with suicide deaths, the number of actual suicide deaths is likely much higher.

To put this in perspective, the number of people dead by suicide is about twice that of the number of people killed by all forms of homicides each year.

However, that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the impact of suicide goes.

The CDC reports that 12.3 million American adults seriously thought about suicide in 2021. Three and a half million planned a suicide attempt and 1.7 million people attempted suicide.

The risk of talking about suicide in terms of statistics and numbers is that it removes the fundamental humanity and diminishes the personal and community tragedy that every suicide death brings.

Those who attempt and those who die by suicide are our brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, parents, children, cousins, comrades and coworkers. When we look in the mirror, we see their faces in our own, the memories of their last battle invading our thoughts in those quiet and dark times.

The challenge for all of us is to learn from that sorrow to be the one to prevent the next tragedy from occurring.

September is National Suicide Awareness Month. Throughout the month there are events and education to dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding suicide and to empower every one of us to learn the warning signs and connect those at risk with the help they need.

Among those events, on September 27, people are invited to take part in a day of learning at Northcentral Technical College. The event, which is made possible with funding from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Foundation, will include both in-person and virtual sessions addressing a variety of topics. From 8:30-10 a.m. Sara Kohlbeck with the Medical College of Wisconsin will talk about youth suicide. From 10:15-11:45 a.m. Erica Steib with Mental Health America of Wisconsin will talk about suicide in the - LGBTQ+ - community, from 12-1:30 p.m., Carole Ewald and Alyssa Knoll with the Veterans Administration will talk about suicide among veterans, from 1:45-3:15 p.m., Gena L. Orlando - Wisconsin Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will talk about suicide and older adults and from 3:30-5 p.m., Darla Tyler-McSherry with Montana State University and Ask in Earnest will present on suicide among farmers.

People may register by going online to or may call 715-7481420.

There will be an in-person QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) suicide prevention training for anyone who may be interested from 5:15-6 p.m. in person at NTC-Medford Campus. Plus, the local coalition in Taylor County will be hosting two free showings at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. of the documentary, “The Ripple Effect,” featuring Kevin Hines at the Broadway Theater in Medford.

Suicide impacts everyone and it is up to each of us to learn and do what we can to be the one who stops the next tragedy.