Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers and those in their 20s in South Dakota. But many people are still hesitant to talk about the subject.
That's why the Helpline Center will hold its first-ever Step Forward To Prevent Suicide walk and run in Sioux Falls. Organizers not only want to raise awareness but also give people a chance to remember loved ones who died by suicide.
A Sioux Falls man who lost his wife to suicide is leading the event and hopes to raise awareness to prevent future deaths.
Carl and Kathy Thompson were married for 45 years. Carl says his wife was a very quiet, loving woman and her three grandchildren were the bright spot in her life.
"She wouldn't hurt a flea. She was very kind," Carl said.
But despite the good times, such as playing 'Ring Around The Rosie' with her grandkids, Kathy also dealt with depression for years. She sought help and even stayed in the hospital for a while. But it was not enough and she took her own life two years ago.
"There's a lot of guilt. And I found my wife. So that's uncommon; that's hard," Carl said.
Unfortunately Carl is just one of many people in South Dakota who has been impacted by suicide.
"Suicide certainly is a problem in South Dakota. We loose about 130 people every year to suicide in South Dakota," Helpline Center Executive Director Janet Kittams-Lalley said.
Suicide is an often taboo topic. But Kittams-Lalley says people should talk about it. That's one of the points of the upcoming Step Forward to Prevent Suicide walk.
"Often times people who are experiencing thoughts of suicide are reluctant to reach out for help. And a lot of that is because of the stigma surrounding it. So the more we can talk about it, the more we can encourage people to reach out for help," Kittams-Lalley said.
That is exactly what Carl has chosen to do as the honorary chairperson of the upcoming walk.
"There's so much of it out there that I think things like this can be very helpful for people, where they'll come out and talk about it and call places like this," Kittams-Lalley said.
Because Carl knows the impact suicide can have on an entire family.
The Step Forward To Prevent Suicide walk and 5k run is June 23rd at Falls Park.