September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide somewhere in the world. In Michigan, every seven hours someone takes their own life.
Mark-Ethan Holloway remembers growing up in the choir with his friend Capri Varnes. They sang together every week for years at Peace and Goodwill Baptist Church in Detroit.
He was stunned to learn on July 13, 2019 that Varnes took her own life at the age of 22.
“She was energetic. She was so funny. She was always dancing. Very bright. She loved to sing,” recalled Holloway.
Like so many of her family and friends, Mark-Ethan can’t believe she’s gone. But young people are seeing a rise in suicide numbers globally.
“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for adolescents,” said Andrea Smith, Director of Workforce Training and Program Development at the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority -- soon to be called Detroit Wayne Integrative Health Network.
Smith said the most suicides occur among young people between the ages of 15 and 34.
She recommended three proven steps to help prevent suicide: Question, Persuade and Refer.
Question – Persuade – Refer
“So if I can ask you the question openly, ‘Are you thinking about killing yourself?’ Okay, so I asked you that question. Then can I persuade you to get help? If I can persuade you to get help, then I will refer you to the appropriate place,” explained Smith.
The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority has an Access Center with a helpline open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Last year alone it received 269,000 calls.
And if you’re one of those people who is feeling hopeless, remember this:
“Understand the power of hope. Understand that someone does care and that the world needs you,” said Smith.
Mark-Ethan hopes more millennials will start reaching out.
“I think if you just try it could really help in ways that you may not even understand,” he said.
You can also visit the DWMHA’s office in person at 707 W. Milwaukee Avenue in Detroit for assistance.
Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is another 24/7 resource (800)273-8255.
On September 10, 2019, if you’d like to take part in World Suicide Prevention Day, you can “Light a Candle Near a Window at 8pm.” You can do this to show your support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one, or to honor the survivors of suicide.