OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – It’s an epidemic that hides in the shadows. But an Oklahoma woman, along with her non-profit, is hoping to bring light and awareness to suicides.

“By the grace of God, I’m still alive,” said Bee Smith with the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Society for Suicide Prevention. “I began to learn the root cause of suicide.”

Over a decade ago, Smith was found unresponsive inside her home after attempting to kill herself. 

“I woke up in the hospital,” said Smith. “I had no clue what had happened. I was still very angry that I was still alive.”

That was a wake-up call for Smith, so she knew she had to get help.

She joined the Oklahoma chapter of the American Society for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). It’s a non-profit that provides resources to Oklahomans that need help.

The grassroots work AFSP does focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.

“Unfortunately, we’re waiting too late,” said Sheila Williams, a licensed professional counselor. “We’ve been more reactive than proactive. So being on the prevention side of it gives us more resources to prevent suicide.”

According to the CDC, Oklahoma ranks sixth in the nation for suicide deaths. It’s also the second leading cause of death for people ages 25 to 34.

“All generations are taking a stand because, without community involvement, there is no true prevention,” said Williams. “Without the support of elected officials, there is no true suicide prevention.” 

The Oklahoma Chapter of the American Society for Suicide Prevention will gather this weekend for a 3-mile journey of hope and support at the out-of-dark Oklahoma City walk. It will start at 10 a.m. Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on September 10. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or emotional distress, you can call or visit the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24 hours a day/seven days a week.