As a volunteer with the Maine Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I know too well how suicide affects survivors. I lost a nephew to suicide in 2012, and his cousin, another of my nephews, died last year from an overdose, and we will never know if his was intentional. Both had a history of depression and anxiety; both were being treated by mental health professionals, and one had attempted suicide earlier.

When I read a recent editorial in the Portland Press Herald (April 13), I was encouraged to see the newspaper focusing on suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In Maine, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the second leading cause of death in persons aged 15-34.

AFSP is a national organization with chapters in every state; all are focused on funding research, education, advocacy and support for suicide loss survivors and those who are struggling.

One of the ways AFSP raises awareness is through community walks. . The Greater Portland Walk is on Sept. 8, at Fort Allen Park. Last year’s walk raised over $30,000 and was attended by about 300 people. Walks are also scheduled for Fort Kent, Bangor and Bath, in addition to campus walks at the University of Maine in Orono and Leavitt Area High School in Turner.

Suicide is a leading, but preventable, cause of death. AFSP Chapters offer prevention, education and training programs to help save lives.

Only by talking openly about it will we make a difference and drive down the suicide rate in the state of Maine.

Anne Falk


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