A recent South Dakota Department of Health report shows there were 192 suicides in 2017, the most ever reported for the state.
To combat this, the town of Tea held a suicide prevention walk.
“I think it’s a topic that’s often not talked about and it affects so many people. Seeing people come together makes people more aware of it and helps people talk about it,” Jennifer Smetana said.
Jennifer Smetana volunteered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She says they’re happy with Saturday’s turnout.
“I’m actually shocked. At 9 a.m. people started rolling in and that’s just a testament to how great the Tea community is,” Smetana said.
This was the first year the event partnered with Special Olympics South Dakota.
“We have some neat connections with suicide prevention to work together to help those that feel there’s not another alternative to try to turn things around,” Darryl Nordquist with Special Olympics South Dakota said.
Both organizations hope this partnership will help bring more attention to mental health.
“Hopefully people will become more aware of the fact those things are impacting are youth especially in a negative way. We need to find ways to turn that around to be a positive,” Nordquist said.
“It’s not something that you have to close the door on. It’s not something to be afraid of or to not talk about. It’s something to watch for signs. It’s just a good thing for people to come out and learn a little bit more,” Smetana said.
There was also a suicide prevention walk in Yankton.
The Yankton United Way says more than 300 people participated.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you can call the Helpline Center at 211 or 1-800-273-8255.