Local organizations remember people lost to suicide

Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 09/12/2021, 1:34 AM
Edited: 09/12/2021, 2:10 PM

(TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.) Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States for people between the ages of 10 and 34 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

The month of September is Suicide Prevention Month and September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. 

Members of the group Hope Lives in Northern Michigan and other local non-profits, marked September 10th by remembering the people in their lives lost to suicide. 

On Friday night they stood in front of Sunset Park in Traverse City holding signs with pictures of loved ones lost to suicide and words of encouragement reminding people they matter. 

Candles were also lit to remember people lost to suicide. 

Matthew Cooke, a committee member for Hope Lives in Northern Michigan, was among those in attendance. 

"I've been pretty much about raising awareness for suicide in terms of prevention and education back since probably about 2010 and 2014 when I lost two of my close friends," said Cooke. 

Cooke says it's important to give people encouragement and that there's one important thing to always remember, especially if you're going through a difficult time. 

"One of the most important takeaways, you're not alone in this," said Cooke. "There's plenty of people, plenty of resources, and it's alright to ask for help."

For Janeen Wardie, the chair of Hope Lives in Northern Michigan, nights like Friday spent raising awareness about suicide prevention help her keep her son's memory alive. 

Her son Zechariah died by suicide in 2015. 

Putting mental health at the top of the priority list is something Wardie advocates for. 

"I believe that our mental health is more important than our physical health because our mental health is our brain and if our brain is broken it affects our entire body," said Wardie. 

Wardie has struggled with mental health throughout her life and says people also need to be aware of some warning signs of suicide that include being withdrawn, isolation from others, skipping school or work, and giving away possessions. 

She says it's also important to check on the people who seem like they're okay. 

"It's so important that we're reaching out to our friends, especially if they seem like they have a life that's all together because we hide it," said Wardie. "We're so good at hiding it because of the stigma so it's important that you're reaching out to your friends that seem to have such a happy life."

Wardie says parents also play an important role in helping their children with mental health, especially with many struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"One in four young people are reporting that they're having a significant problem with their mental health because of the pandemic," said Wardie. "It's important to make sure that your kids know that you're a safe person and a trusted person to talk to. 

Wardie also says one of the main purposes of Hope Lives in Northern Michigan is to support local non-profits that work to prevent suicide and support people affected by it. 

If you would like to donate or receive support from a local organization that helps with suicide prevention or provides aftercare support services you can find more information on the websites listed below.

Child and Family Services of Northwest Michigan: www.cfsnwmi.org 

Kiersten's Ride: kierstensride.org 

National Alliance on Mental Illness Grand Traverse: www.namigt.org 

Reigning Liberty Ranch: reininglibertyranch.org

Michael's Place: https://www.mymichaelsplace.net/hope-lives-in-northern-michigan-national-suicide-prevention-and-awareness-month/ 

22 2 None: 222none.org

If you or someone you know you needs help you can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling: 1-800-273-8255

You can also text the crisis text line at 741741.  


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