Understanding And Preventing Suicide

By Kerry Bosworth, walk chairwoman, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

In the United States, someone dies by suicide every 13.7 seconds. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in 1 million attempts annually. So many people are affected by suicide, and yet very few people talk about it.


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Participants in AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Walk in San Francisco in 2011. Photo from AFSP

A group of people in Hawaii is trying to change that. On Nov. 10, Hawaii’s first Out of the Darkness Community Walk will be held at Kakaako Waterfront Park. This walk is the first step in the formation of a chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in Hawaii. AFSP is the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, advocacy and reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

Melissa DiPonziano lost her brother Ian in 2011. “After Ian died, I felt as though no one understood what I was going through,” she says. “I felt less isolated when I started going to Survivors of Suicide meetings, hosted by AFSP. Then, in 2012, I walked in AFSP’s annual overnight walk in San Francisco. Being surrounded by 2,000 people who I could talk with openly about suicide and Ian and my grief was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Diane Park, who lost her daughter in 2003, also joined a support group sponsored by AFSP and participated in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk just two months after losing her daughter. “The first year I walked, it made me realize that I was not alone in my darkness,” she says. “Going to support group meetings gave me ways to cope with my feelings. And, after time, I was able to share what helped me with others new to the group.”

Both ladies feel strongly about bringing a chapter of AFSP to Hawaii. “If those who suffer know they don’t have to do so in silence, there’s a good chance that they’ll ask for help. AFSP wants to help, and the people of Hawaii deserve the help,” DiPonziano says.

Registration for the walk is open until 5 p.m. Friday. Participants also can register the morning of the event. For more information, to register or to donate vital funds to be used to help establish the Hawaii chapter, visit afsp.org or call 851-7786.

Hawaii charitable organizations may send requests for space in either Proof Positive or the free advertisement below to dchapman@midweek.com.