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Veterans support suicide prevention

By Staff | Sep 16, 2014

On Sunday afternoon the Hughesville American Legion Post 35 presented a check for $3,000 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Front row, left to right: Pat Wilson, Treasurer; Dale Wertman, Sr., President; and Brenda Rippey, Greater Lycoming Chapter for AFSP.

HUGHESVILLE – Each year the American Legion Post 35 in Hughesville devotes their fundraising efforts towards a good cause, a non-profit organization that will assist in saving lives, building research and increasing awareness.

This year through a local contact, they raised over $3,000 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dale Wertman Sr., President of the American Legion, and members presented a check to Brenda Rippey from South Williamsport on Sunday afternoon, September 7. Rippey is a member of the Greater Lycoming Chapter of the (AFSP). Thirteen years ago she herself lost her son at the young age of 19. It has been an emotional struggle for Rippey and her family, so she decided to take some proactive efforts to help support others who have lost a loved one through such a devastating loss.

She began by participating in the annual “Out Of The Darkness Walk” both locally and in Harrisburg. Employed at the Muncy State Correctional Institute in Clinton Township, Rippey was contacted by Wertman and together they worked on fundraising efforts. The American Legion sponsored a ride in August and with an overwhelming response they were able to donate sufficient funds for the AFSP local chapter.

It is reported that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among adults and the second leading cause among teens and young adults. Individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. Suicide is a public health issue, and one is committed just about every minute.

Rippey shared that two co-workers also lost family members to suicide, all within a year. “Just about everyone knows someone affected by this,” she said. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually. For the past six years she has been focusing on fundraising for the AFSP.

To combat efforts for the cause, a community walk, “Out of The Darkness” will be held Sunday, September 21 at Indian Park in Montoursville which will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 4 p.m.

“This is a signature fundraising campaign to bring together family, friends, colleagues and supporters for a three to five mile walk,” added Rippey. Anyone is welcome to participate and can register up until Friday, September 19. Joe Miller is the local contact and he can be reached at joesmiller@verizon.net or register at afsp.donordrive.com,

According to AFSP suicide claimed 39,518 lives in 2011 in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.3 minutes. To save lives, much research is needed, and it is vital to continue education programs, especially in schools, with awareness about suicide and depression.

AFSP was founded in 1987 when a group of caring people including scientists had a vision to educate and help prevent an alarming rise in suicide rates. They discovered the highest overall rates of suicide are for adults age 40 to 59.

To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following five core strategies:

Fund scientific research

Offer educational programs for professionals

Educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention

Promote policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention

Provide programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involve them in the work of the Foundation

To get more help there is a national suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, 24/7 service that can provide suicidal persons or those around them with support, information and

local resources.


Talking about wanting to die

Looking for a way to kill oneself

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose

Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

Talking about being a burden to others

Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly Sleeping too little or too much

Withdrawing or feeling isolated

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

Displaying extreme mood swings

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not

be what causes a suicide.

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.