Hundreds Join 2010 Walk for Suicide Prevention

On a beautiful Sunday morning on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus, close to 1,000 people turned out to take part in the Out of the Darkness community walk for suicide prevention. The participants, including Miller School of Medicine students and faculty, joined thousands of people nationwide to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s vital research and education programs to save lives.

Charles Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of psychiatry at the Miller School, served as co-chair of the event and welcomed the crowd by passing along some sobering statistics about the increasing rate of suicide in this country. “By the time we are done speaking here and we start walking, two more people will have died by suicide,” Dr. Nemeroff warned.

Each year more than 34,000 people die by suicide in the United States, and an estimated one million people attempt suicide. It is now the second leading cause of death among college students. “We believe we will see 40,000 people die by suicide this year, and that is frightening,” Dr. Nemeroff said. “As the number of cases increases, we must raise awareness about this very important public health issue.”

Walking alongside Dr. Nemeroff and sharing his passion for the importance of suicide prevention and education was Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., who was named honorary chair for the fundraising walk. When he asked for a show of hands from everyone who has lost someone to suicide, just about every hand went up. “And you are just the tip of the iceberg for this substantial problem,” the Dean said. “We have to destigmatize mental illnesses, we have to destigmatize suicide and, more importantly, its prevention.

“We have enough optimism in this group of walkers across America to share with 7 billion people, and to make sure that any one of our fellow humans who is thinking about suicide will never be alone again, that there will always be another option, no matter the darkness of depression.”

Becoming knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms that can lead to suicide and knowing there are treatments available for mood and other psychiatric disorders are key ways to help reduce deaths. It is believed that 90 percent of people who die by suicide are suffering from one or more treatable psychiatric problems such as depression or bipolar disorder.

The Out of the Darkness walk raised more than $35,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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